EVEN SO-SO PAST PERFORMANCE CAN CAUSE TROUBLE
Federal agencies have wide latitude in evaluating contractor past performance, so long as they use consistent methods that follow regulatory boundaries and their own stated RFP/Q evaluation factors. Negative past performance is obviously something that every contractor strives to avoid. Even “just ok” past performance, though, can be enough for your company to lose a bid. A recent GAO decision, Sterling Medical Associates, Inc., shows that one company found this out the hard way. Even though Sterling had been evaluated as having “Satisfactory Confidence”, it lost out to a company rated as having “Substantial Confidence”. Sterling protested that the agency’s review included a wide spectrum of CPAR’s evaluations, not only those of projects similar to this one. GAO denied the protest, however, stating “The scope of past performance information to consider is a matter within the agency’s discretion, and the fact that the agency could have, but did not elect to, further focus its review to only those efforts the protester views as most similar does not render the evaluation unreasonable or inconsistent with the solicitation.” This decision shows that companies need to not only ensure proper fulfillment on government projects, but that they should maintain written statements with their explanations of less-than-perfect CPAR’s evaluations. While you may not always get a chance to tell your side of the story, you should always be prepared to do so. This is especially true on the government’s FAPIIS reporting system. Companies can respond to negative CPAR’s or other unfavorable posting, but only within a limited time frame. If you haven’t checked the FAPIIS report (https://www.fapiis.gov/fapiis/index.action) on your company lately, you should and make it a regular practice, as well. In the meantime, remember that in government contracting, the past can definitely be prologue.