Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest denied.
Agency’s evaluation of offerors’ “quality” and “delivery” past performance was reasonable, where solicitation advised offerors that past performance would be evaluated based on information listed in Past Performance Information Retrieval System–Statistical Reporting (PPIRS), offerors were given an opportunity to correct inaccuracies in PPIRS records, and the agency confirmed the validity of negative past performance; agency’s decision not to select protester’s lower-priced proposal was reasonable given its poor record of delivery performance and the agency’s rational decision that awardee’s superior performance record was worth the additional cost.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
PMT reasserts earlier protest allegations that the agency misevaluated past performance. Although it does not challenge the agency’s use of “Past Performance information Retrieval System–Statistical Reporting” (PPIRS) as a measure of past performance, it contends that the contracting officer’s interpretation of those records was unreasonable. PMT also asserts that the contracting officer did not give sufficient weight to PMT’s superior quality past performance in the award decision. GAO states that the evaluation of past performance is a matter of agency discretion, and GAO will review the evaluation only to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria and applicable statutes and regulations. The evaluation by its very nature is subjective; the offeror’s mere disagreement with the agency’s evaluation judgments does not demonstrate that those judgments are unreasonable.
PMT challenges the agency’s evaluation of the PPIRS quality records for past performance. It contends that the contracting officer improperly diminished the value of PMT’s purple rating and irrationally concluded that PMT’s higher quality rating did not indicate a higher degree of confidence. GAO adds that regardless of the color rating assigned, such ratings are merely guides for intelligent decision-making in the procurement process; and where, as here, the agency considers the underlying basis of the ratings and rationally determines that a color rating does not provide higher confidence in performance, the actual color rating assigned is inconsequential in the analysis.
Here, the contracting officer credited PMT’s purple rating under PPIRS and recognized that this rating was higher than ATAP’s. The contracting officer also discounted the only written quality report for PMT, which was negative, because of its age and a lack of information about the reasons for this report. The contracting officer also acknowledged that PMT delivered 50 line items as opposed to ATAP’s single line item, and found that, except for the discounted quality report for PMT mentioned above, there were no quality reports, negative or positive, about either offeror’s line items. Given this absence of specific data, the contracting officer found that PMT’s more numerous complaint-free deliveries did not indicate “a higher degree of confidence should be afforded PMT over ATAP” with regard to quality. Based on GAO’s review, it finds that the contracting officer reasonably evaluated the offerors’ respective quality past performance consistent with the RFP’s evaluation scheme, and reasonably determined that the quality aspect of the offerors’ past performance was not a significant discriminator between proposals. In this regard, GAO further finds that the contracting officer reasonably determined that PMT’s superiority under this factor did not indicate “a higher degree of confidence” that PMT would be more likely to provide items that would meet the agency’s quality standards.
PMT also challenges the agency’s evaluation of delivery past performance. It complains that the contracting officer relied on PPIRS scores without considering the “currency and relevance of the information, source of the information, context of the data, and general trends in contractor’s performance,” as required by the FAR. However, GAO states that a review of the record confirms that the contracting officer considered all of the information required by the solicitation and the FAR. In this regard, the contracting officer evaluated the available PPIRS data, consulted with the Air Force PPIRS liaison, and reviewed PMT’s contract files to confirm the validity of PMT’s delinquencies, and to understand the reasons for and circumstances surrounding those delinquencies. The contracting officer also provided PMT with an opportunity to correct any errors in its PPIRS data. Based on the information available, the contracting officer determined that, even after inaccuracies were corrected, PMT delivered items late 36 percent of the time and was at fault for all of those late deliveries. In fact, of 12 late deliveries associated with Air Force contracts, eight were in excess of 60 days late. This demonstrated to the contracting officer an “overwhelming . . . pattern of disregard on the part of PMT in meeting their contractual obligations for delivery.” Based on a review of the record, GAO finds the contracting officer’s assessment of PMT’s delivery record to be reasonable.
PMT asserts that the contracting officer’s conclusion that ATAP’s delivery record was superior to PMT’s is unreasonable, given that ATAP’s delivery score of 100% was based only on one line item, whereas PMT’s delivery record included many line items and many on-time deliveries. The contracting officer considered the number of line items upon which PPIRS scores were based, as well as PMT’s on-time deliveries, but noted that PMT’s significant number of late deliveries “warranted a diminished degree of confidence in their ability to perform and deliver on time.” In so doing, the contracting officer did not give too much weight to the delivery aspect of past performance, but appropriately recognized it as a clear discriminator between the proposals. Given the “critical” nature of the work, GAO finds the contracting officer’s reasoning unobjectionable. The protest is denied.