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Government Misapplies Past Performance Criteria

Posted on March 1st, 2016 by

GAO finds that the Department of Justice failed to adhere to evaluation criteria in a solicitation for investigative support services for DOJ’s asset forfeiture program.  Arctic Slope Mission Services, LLC, B-410992.5; B-410992.6 (January 8, 2016)  The solicitation included past performance and technical evaluation factors, which were to be independently rated.  The GAO held that the DOJ failed to adhere to this evaluation scheme when it considered past performance under both the past performance and technical evaluation factors.  This resulted in an evaluation that gave greater weight to past performance than the evaluation scheme allowed.

For example, the Government rated one offeror’s Technical Approach “thorough and complete,” but downgraded its proposal under this factor because “the offeror could not demonstrate experience performing prior contracts that were sufficiently similar.” This, in effect, caused the past performance factor to permeate into a technical factor in direct contradiction to the evaluation criteria.

The GAO also held that the Government failed to consider the relevance of past performance references in accordance with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria.  “An agency’s evaluation of an offeror’s past performance is unreasonable where the solicitation requires the agency to consider the relevance of the offerors’ references as compared to the solicited requirement, and the agency fails to document any evaluation of relevance.”  In this case, the RFP required that offerors submit past performance references of similar size and scope to the RFP requirements, and stated that the agency would evaluate the “extent and relevance” of each offeror’s past performance.  The record, however, consisted of averaged past performance questionnaire ratings for each offeror with no analysis or evaluation of the relevance of the past performance references to the solicitation’s requirements.


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