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Is it reasonable to find 1 month of Past Performance "relevant"?


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Is it reasonable to find 1 month of Past Performance "relevant"? The scenario is a solicitation where offerors were required to submit past performance references for work that was ongoing or completed within the past 3 years from the closing date of the solicitation. Say Offeror ABC Company submitted only 1 PP reference, and it was for a recently awarded contract on which they had been performing for only 1 month.

In Chenega Technical Products, LLC, B-295451.5, Jun. 22, 2005, GAO addressed this scenario where the agency involved found that 1 month of PP was not very relevant:

". . . Chenega does not dispute the fact that its Fort Dix contract had been performed for only 1 month at the time of the agency's evaluation here. Rather, Chenega argues that RFP did not establish as a qualifying factor the duration of prior contract efforts in order to be considered relevant past performance. [*11] The protester also contends that the brief period of performance of its Fort Dix contract should not be a disqualifying factor, inasmuch as performance in the first month is the strongest indicator of the quality of performance for the entire period (Chenega's performance in the first month was successful). By failing to inform offerors that prior contract performance had a durational qualifying factor, Chenega argues, the Army improperly employed an unstated evaluation criterion to the protester's detriment.

Although agencies are required to identify in a solicitation all major evaluation factors, they are not required to identify all areas of each factor which might be taken into account in an evaluation, provided that the unidentified areas are reasonably related to or encompassed by the stated factors. AIA-Todini-Lotos, B-294337, Oct. 15, 2004, 2004 CPD P 211 at 8; see Gentex Corp.--W. Operations, B-291793 et al., Mar. 25, 2003, 2003 CPD P 66 at 24. [6] We find the Army's consideration of the duration of Chenega's prior contract efforts as part of the evaluation of the offeror's past performance here was consistent with the stated evaluation criteria.

It is self-evident, [*12] we think, that the length or duration of an offeror's prior contract efforts logically relates to both the relevance and quality of an offeror's past performance. See EastCo Bldg. Servs., Inc., B-275334, B-275334.2, Feb. 10, 1997, 97-1 CPD P 83 at 3-4 (finding that an agency reasonably considered contract duration as part of a determination of the similarity of an offeror's past performance); SWR, Inc.--Protests & Costs, B-294266.2 et al., Apr. 22, 2005, 2005 CPD P 94 at 6 (finding that the agency reasonably gave less weight to a prior contract that had been performed for less than 1 year). In evaluating an offeror's likelihood of successful performance, a prior contract effort that is of brief or limited duration is simply not as probative of an offeror's record as a contract for a lengthier period of time. See SWR, Inc.--Protests & Costs, supra."

But I cannot find an example fact pattern in a GAO decision where the agency wanted to go the other way: the agency wants to find that 1 month of PP relevant.

Based on Chenega, is GAO saying an agency MUST take into account the "short duration" of a Past Performance submission? Would it be "unreasonable" not to take the "short duration" into account?

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Forget the GAO, for now.

What do you think? Does the one month of past performance history provide you with some confidence that the offeror will perform your contract successfully? Or, if it is bad past performance, does it give you some pause? Whatever the answer is, there is your answer. It is your evaluation.

[i pose this answer as if the original poster is the contracting officer, but I don't know that for sure.]

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Guest Vern Edwards

This is a more matter of critical thinking than case law research.

The relevance of past performance information is largely a matter of the nature and circumstances of the past performance in comparison with the performance that will be required in the future. Relevance is a matter of appropriateness to, connectedness with, and similarity to the matter at hand. It is also a matter of what you said in the RFP, if anything, about criteria for relevancy.

The determination of relevance is largely a matter of agency discretion. See e.g., Cajun Constructors, Inc., B-409685, 2014 CPD ¶ 212 (July 15,2014):

Our Office will examine an agency's evaluation of an offeror's past performance only to ensure that it was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria and applicable statutes and regulations since determining the relative merit or relative relevance of an offeror's past performance is primarily a matter within the agency's discretion.

So use your head.

Unless you are an attorney or otherwise skilled at case law analysis, I think that looking for a "fact pattern" is a waste of your time. The most important thing to do is to think like a critically-minded practitioner.

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