Past Performance: Agency Properly Considered Project Size

A procuring agency appropriately considered the size of offerors’ past performance projects in evaluating proposals, even though project size was not expressly stated as an evaluation factor.

According to a recent GAO bid protest decision, contractors should assume that project size may be considered whenever past performance is evaluated, because size bears on the relevancy of a past performance project.

The GAO’s decision in Insect Shield Manufacturing, LLC, B-408067.3 (Aug. 8, 2013) involved a Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) solicitation for permethrin treatment for Army combat uniforms.  The solicitation called for offerors to submit past performance references with information regarding recent and relevant contracts.  The past performance references required information such as the dates of award and completion, contract dollar value, percentage of work completed by the offeror’s own forces, and so on.

UNICOR received proposals from two offerors.  In its past performance evaluation, UNICOR noted that both companies had received three “Excellent” past performance references, one “Good” and one “Satisfactory.”  However, Insect Shield Manufacturing, LLC had not performed any contracts nearly as large as the contract in question.  UNICOR concluded that the other company–which had completed such contracts–was the better value to the government, based in part on that company’s past performance.

Insect Shield filed a GAO bid protest.  Insect Shield argued, in part, that UNICOR had applied an unstated evaluation factor by evaluating the size of Insect Shield’s past performance projects.  The GAO wrote that “an agency may properly take into account specific matters that are logically encompassed by, or related to, the stated evaluation criteria, even when they are not expressly identified as evaluation criteria.”

The GAO noted that the solicitation had required offerors to provide the value of their past performance projects.  It wrote “we think it is both illogical and unreasonable to presume that an agency will pay no attention to the size and similarity of past contracts in its evaluation, since such factors are germane to the relevance of the past performance information.”  The GAO denied the protest.

The Insect Shield Manufacturing case suggests that the size of past performance projects may be considered as part of a past performance evaluation, even when size is not expressly identified in the solicitation as an evaluation factor.  Contractors deciding which projects to submit should take note.

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