Past Performance: Agency Need Not Seek Updated Information At Source Selection

Once an agency has completed its past performance evaluation it is not required to seek updated past performance information from offerors.

As demonstrated in a recent GAO bid protest decision, an agency may rely on the most recent past performance information available at the time of evaluation, and is not required to seek more recent information at the time of the source selection.

The GAO’s decision in Erickson Helicopters, Inc., B-409903; B-409903.2 (Sept. 5, 2014), involved a request for proposals for helicopter transport services issued by the U.S. Transportation Command, Department of Defense. The award was to be made a best-value basis considering four factors: technical, past performance, price, and Fly America Act preference. The technical factor was to be evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Proposals that were found to be technically acceptable would then be subject to a past performance/price tradeoff to determine best value.

With respect to past performance, the RFP established that the agency would evaluate the offerors’ demonstrated recent, relevant record of performance to determine the agency’s confidence in their ability to perform the solicitation requirements. Recent past performance was defined as work performed within three years of proposal submission.

The agency received seven proposals, including a proposal submitted by the incumbent contractor, Erickson Helicopters, Inc. Erickson submitted past performance information for three projects, but did not submit past performance information about its work on the incumbent contract. Although Erickson did not identify the incumbent contract as one of its projects, it did discuss the incumbent contract in a proposal narrative that provided an “overview” and “highlights” of its past performance.

The agency performed an initial evaluation and established a competitive range that included Erickson’s proposal. The agency engaged in discussions and informed Erickson that its proposal was technically acceptable but that its past performance had been evaluated as “limited confidence.”  In response to the agency’s request for a final proposal revision, Erickson submitted a new past performance narrative that discussed the improvement in its performance on the incumbent contract.

The agency reviewed three contractor performance assessment reports for the incumbent contract, two of which reported Erickson’s performance as unsatisfactory.  The third CPAR indicated improvement, but indicated that Erickson’s performance was marginal.  In its final evaluation, the agency assigned Erickson a “limited confidence” past performance rating, based in large part on Erickson’s performance on the incumbent contract.

After the agency awarded the contract to a competitor, Erickson filed a GAO bid protest.  Erickson argued that when the agency made its source selection, the agency should have reviewed updated PPIRS and CPARS information for the incumbent contract.  Erickson contended that, had the agency reviewed the most recently available information, Erickson’s past performance score would have improved.

The GAO noted that the agency’s past performance information was up-to-date when the agency conducted its evaluation.  Although more recent information became available by the time the source selection occurred, there is “no general requirement that an agency continue to seek updated performance information once its past performance evaluation is complete.”  The GAO denied Erickson’s protest.

The Erickson Helicopters case demonstrates that, once an agency completes its past performance evaluation, new past performance information need not be considered.  Although contractors always strive to improve ongoing performance, once the agency’s past performance evaluation is complete, there is no guarantee that improved performance will be taken into account in the award decision.

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