Agency Erred in Overlooking Awardee’s Lack of Relevant Past Performance; OneSource PCS, LLC, GAO B-419222

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Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of past performance is sustained. The solicitation provided that offerors had to demonstrate relevant past performance in laser eye surgery. The protester alleged the awardee’s proposal did not demonstrate relevant past performance. GAO agreed. The awardee’s proposal only demonstrated general optometry and surgical experience, not the specific surgical experience required by the solicitation.

The Air Force issued a solicitation seeking photorefractive kerectomy services—i.e., laser eye surgery. The solicitation provided that the Air Force would perform a best value tradeoff based on past performance and price. To be eligible for award, an offeror had to receive a “substantial confidence” rating under the past performance factor.

The Air Force awarded the contract to AIMS Locum Tenens, LLC. An unsuccessful offeror, OncSource, PCS, protested, alleging that the Air Force misevaluated AIMS past performance and unreasonably assigned AIMS a substantial confidence rating. Specifically, OneSource argued that AIMS’s past performance failed to demonstrate relevant experience with photorefractive kerectomy. Instead, AIMS had only shown general optometry experience.

GAO agreed with OneSource. The PWS made it clear that the proposed positions must have specific experience in refractive surgery. AIMS past performance, however, only demonstrated experience in general optometry and surgical skills. Indeed, even the agency’s expert conceded that a general optometrist would not necessarily have experience in refractive surgery. GAO concluded that the general eye care positions in AIMS’s proposal did not demonstrate that the prior efforts involved photorefractive kerectomy surgery. There was no basis to conclude that AIMS had relevant experience.

Because relevancy was a threshold matter in the evaluation of past performance, AIMS’s lack of relevant past performance undercut the substantial confidence rating it received under the past performance factor. Without a substantial confidence rating, AIMS would not have been eligible for award. OneSource, with the next lowest price, was next in line for award and thus had been prejudiced by the Air Force’s error.

OneSource is represented by William A. Shook of the Law Offices of William A. Shook. The intervenor, AIMS, is represented by W. Stephen Graves of the Graves Law Firm. The agency is represented by Alexis J. Bernstein and Michael J. Farr of the Air Force. GAO attorneys Emily R. O’Hara and Peter H. Tran participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO OneSource PCS