Importance of past performance for Federal Contractors

On the surface, it seems pretty simple, Past Performance is a huge contributor to how likely contractors are to win an award. However, this statement runs deep and often is contested and misunderstood by small businesses. During a recent contesting of an award to a rival competitor, a small business contractor found out that past performance should relate to solicited services rather than similar titles, etc.

The Government Accountability Office recently decided during this contestation, that the requirements of the past contract should match the requirements for any future contract. In this scenario, Technica was one of three offerors for a TSA requirement for screening services at a Floridian airport. The contract was to be judged on the best value and the most relevant past performance examples. Past performance would be judged based on similar size, scope, and complexity to the new contract. The TSA found that Technica only had one example that matched with this requirement. Technica challenged the award, arguing that it was wrong for the TSA to only consider one of its past performance examples. They argued that the solicitation never explicitly mentioned that the applicant needed these specific services, and therefore the examples they offered should all have been legitimate.

The GAO denied this protest arguing that past performance always includes evaluating the scope of the previous services. While these services were never explicitly mentioned, the criteria that were given should have made it clear that this was the case.  The lesson learned from this example is clear, that offerors should give a past performance that aligns with the requirements stated in the solicitation. While again, this may seem trivial and obvious, this case is not alone in its sentiments. That is, this problem has come up before and to win contracts, companies should understand this seemingly simple problem.