When drafting your RFP response to a government proposal, solicitations typically call for relevant past performance. This means that your referenced projects must be recent, similar to the scopeRelevant Past Performance Evaluation of Proposal Responses of work in the proposed project, and must also be of the same size and complexity.

However, this does not mean that a company without sufficient past performance cannot get the contract awarded.

In a recent case, a government contractor protested the agency’s award and argued that the awardee had no experience performing snow/ice removal services. The contracting agency gave the awardee a substantial confidence rating under the past performance evaluation factor.

The protestor suggested that it would have won the contract if the Air Force had decided that the awardee had no relevant past performance.

Agency Response

In response to the protest, the Air Force argued that it made a reasonable determination that the awardee deserved a substantial confidence past performance rating. Although the government RFP used past performance questionnaires, the awardee’s questionnaire was unclear as to the scope of work. Then the agency inquired further and made its source selection decision.

Use Relevant Projects for Best Past Performance Evaluation

In each RFP response, government contractors must carefully select the referenced project that best aligns with the scope of work that they are bidding on. For the best possibility of a higher past performance evaluation, and if allowed in the proposal response, bidders should also explain why the project is relevant to the current RFP requirements.

  • Reading the Statement of Work in great detail and then comparing it to your previous project can save a lot of problems when the competition files a bid protest.

Government Discretion With Your RFP Response

When writing a proposal for a government contract, the agency has wide discretion in choosing the most competitive bid. However, the bidder must still meet the solicitation requirements. If your RFP response does not follow the solicitation requirements, then GAO could rule that the agency acted unreasonably. GAO will not substitute the agency’s business judgment unless it was unreasonable. OSI Collection Servs., Inc.; C.B. Accounts, Inc., B-286597.3 et al., June 12, 2001, 2001 CPD ¶ 103 at 5. 

To avoid forfeiting your contract award in a bid protest, always make sure that your RFP response meets the solicitation’s past performance evaluation requirements for recency and relevancy. If at all possible, articulate in your proposal why the referenced project is similar in size and complexity.

See the Level of Proposal Writing Services We Offer

For additional RFP questions or issues related to filing a bid protest, call our government contract lawyers at 1-866-601-5518.

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