Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Past performance; Management planning
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: In a past performance evaluation, the agency may give greater weight to problems incurred in previous contracts that are more similar to the work at issue than to good work on contracts that are less similar to the work at issue.
The Department of the Navy issued a request for proposals (RFP) for healthcare personnel at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP). The solicitation contemplated the award of a minimum of three indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts, the award of which would be on a best-value basis considering the following evaluation factors: past performance, management planning and market research, and business proposal. Seventeen offerors submitted proposals, including Kuhana-Spectrum, and four awardees were chosen based on their rankings; Kuhana-Spectrum was ranked 6th and protested the awards.
Kuhana-Spectrum protested on two grounds: the rating of its past performance was unreasonable and unequal in light of how the awardees were rated, and the management planning portion of its proposal was improperly downgraded. In its evaluation of the proposals, the Navy determined that Kuhana-Spectrum’s past performance included both positive and negative reviews for prior contracts of similar types, including instances in which there were discrepancy reports for failing provide personnel for certain positions. Based on this analysis, the Navy reasoned that successful or unsuccessful performance by Kuhana-Spectrum were equally probable, and as a result, justified its moderate risk rating. Kuhana-Spectrum contends that its few instances of marginal performance were not viewed in the proper context.
GAO views the evaluation of an offeror’s past performance as being within the discretion of the contracting agency, and typically does not substitute its judgment, rather it will examine the record to determine whether the judgment was reasonable, adequately documented, and in conformance with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria. Based on the record in this protest, GAO determined that the Navy properly considered the past performance of Kuhana-Spectrum and made a reasonable decision in assigning a moderate risk rating due to the past instances of discrepancy reports on similar contracts.
Kuhana-Spectrum’s second argument related to the downgrade that it received for not providing the name and qualifications of certain personnel described in its proposal. Principally, Kuhana-Spectrum claims that identifying these individuals was not required by the contract. However, GAO stated that it is an offeror’s responsibility to submit an adequately written proposal, which establishes its capabilities and merits in accordance with the solicitation’s terms. Further, the RFP cautioned that the evaluators would not assume that the offerors possessed any capabilities or knowledge unless specified in the proposal. Therefore, the Navy’s downgrade of Kuhana-Spectrum’s proposal for this reason was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation, and Kuhana-Spectrum’s protest was denied.