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A solicitation requires offerors to submit Past Performance. It further states that the agency will consider the Past Performance of the offerors' proposed subcontractors if it is submitted. One of the offerors submits a proposal containing the past performance of its subcontractor. The past performance is considered Very Relevant, and the PP surveys are all "Excellent." The evaluators rate the offeror's Past Performance as "Neutral." Why? They say that, because the glowing Past Performance was done by the subcontractor, not the prime, and there is always a general risk that the prime will not be able to manage the subcontractor in such a way as to achieve the same level of high performance (Excellent), the evaluators "downgrade" the overall Past Performance from "Excellent" to "Neutral."

Does this sound reasonable?

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Sounds like it's not neutral though. There is past performance information, and you know that the resources used those surveys will be used under your contract.

Is there anything besides neutral or excellent they can rate them as which makes some sense?

Still, these ratings are guides to decision-making, not gospel. It's the strengths and weaknesses themselves which are most important . . .

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Yes, it sounds reasonable. Also, I think you are mischaracterizing what the evaluators did--I don't think the offeror was "downgraded". You are assuming that the starting point for their evaluation of the offeror's past performance would be "Excellent" because of the subcontractor's ratings on PP surveys are "Excellent". That's not a reasonable assumption. Past performance of a proposed subcontractor may or may not affect the evaluation of an offeror's past performance. Further, a "neutral" rating typically means they didn't have sufficient information to evaluate the offeror's past performance.

In practice, I would not give much weight to a proposed subcontractor's past performance unless that performance took place under a contract from the offeror.

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What did the solicitation list as the potential ratings for past performance? How significant is the effort proposed by the subcontractor in regard to the overall effort that would be required for successful performance of the contract? From what has been disclosed, not enough information is presented to tell if the rating was reasonable.

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EXCELLENT/HIGH CONFIDENCE:
Based on the Offeror's recent and relevant performance record, hte Gov't has a high expectation that hte Offeror will successfully perform the required effort.

GOOD/SIGNIFICANT CONFIDENCE:

Based on the Offeror's recent and relevant performance record, the Gov't has a reasonable expectation that hte Offeror will successfully perofrm the required effort.

FAIR/SOME CONFIDENCE:

Based on the Offeror's recent and relevant performance record, the Gov't has a low expectation that hte Offeror will successfully perform the required effort.

NO CONFIDENCE:

Based on the Offeror's recent and relevant performance record, the Gov't has no expectation that hte Offeror will be able to successfully perform the required effort.

NEUTRAL/UNKNOWN CONFIDENCE:

No recent and relevant performance record is available or the Offeror's performance record is so sparse that no meaningful confidence assessment rating can be reasonably assigned.

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The contract is between the govt and the prime not the sub. Is there any binding agreement or binding commitment between the offeror and the sub?

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Well then you have no solid indication that the sub will be on the job, the contract is with the prime who is ultimately responsible to perform... What other indication do you have of likely success?

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Guest Vern Edwards

A solicitation requires offerors to submit Past Performance. It further states that the agency will consider the Past Performance of the offerors' proposed subcontractors if it is submitted.

In that case I would be worried about giving the offeror a "neutral" rating as if it had no record of past performance. The sub has a record, it is a good record, and the solicitation said you'd consider a sub's record. If I lost and past performance was a factor in the loss, I'd protest your butt off. I think you'd lose.

Of course, you have not given us nearly enough facts to provide a reliable answer.

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Not enough info to be certain plus you really should be getting advice on a specific source selection from some qualified advisors within your agency.

From the limited info provided, if you were to conduct discussions and would otherwise include this firm, I would ask for evidence of a mutual commitment if you intend to rely on the sub. I think you could ask the other firms, too if you are evaluating and relying upon proposed subs' experience and past performance. I'd check with counsel to see if an amendment is possible. I don't understand why you'd evaluate proposed subs without some requirement and assurance that they will actually be involved in the performance of the contract.

My former organization has used a clause for over 25 years concerning key subs or key personnel that were identified in the proposal for design-build contracts and for construction contracts when the proposals are incorporated into the contract. Substitutions are subject to KO approval. Qualifications of the originally proposed firm or personnel become the new minimum requirement and the KO may require consideration for substituting, particularly for substitutions of key subs, where bid shopping may well be occurring.

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