Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: United States Coast Guard
Disposition: Protest denied.
In a best value procurement involving the evaluation of past performance and price, agency’s selection of a higher-priced quotation from a vendor that received an “excellent” rating for past performance as compared to the protester, who received a “neutral” rating, was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation, where the agency made reasonable assessments of the relevancy of vendors’ past performance and reasonably determined that the quotation from the vendor with the more relevant performance record was worth the higher price.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
In its protest, CommSol complains that the agency improperly evaluated the vendors’ past performance and unreasonably awarded the contract to Riverhawk–a higher-priced vendor–who had less or equal experience than CommSol on USCG projects. GAO states that where a solicitation contemplates the evaluation of vendors’ past performance, as is the case here, the contracting agency has the discretion to determine the relevance and scope of the performance history to be considered, and GAO will not question the agency’s judgment unless it is unreasonable or inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation or applicable procurement statutes and regulations. A protester’s mere disagreement with the agency’s judgment does not establish that an evaluation was unreasonable.
With regard to the evaluation of Riverhawk’s quotation, the protester is correct that vendors were required to identify at least two relevant contracts that had been –performed during the last three years. However, the RFQ states only that the contracts must be performed during the past three years, not that performance must be completed prior to the evaluation. Where, as here, the RFQ only requires performance and not completed performance, GAO will not find unreasonable an agency’s decision to consider performance of ongoing contracts. As such, GAO finds the USCG’s evaluation of Riverhawk’s past performance, which included consideration of Riverhawk’s uncompleted Pea Island contract but relied primarily on the Key Biscayne contract, to be reasonable and in accordance with the terms of the solicitation. GAO also finds reasonable the agency’s assessment of CommSol’s past performance–both the agency’s determination that CommSol’s contracts were not relevant and the agency’s assessment of a neutral rating to CommSol’s quotation. In this regard, the record confirms that none of CommSol’s contracts were relevant because they were not of similar complexity, scope, or dollar value to this acquisition. All three contracts were significantly less in value than the independent government estimate for this acquisition, and the two largest contracts did not include the same work as was required here. Furthermore, the USCG received no input from contractor references, despite the agency’s reasonable attempts to obtain such information from references for the two largest contracts. Given the absence of relevant past performance and reference responses, GAO finds that the agency could reasonably assess CommSol’s quotation a neutral past performance rating. The protest is denied.