Does a Subcontractor Past Performance Report Carry the Same Weight as a Contractor Performance Assessment?

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The protester objected to the neutral past performance rating it had received. The protester’s sole past performance reference was a contract on which it had worked as a subcontractor. Because it had been a subcontractor, the protester submitted a subcontractor past performance report completed by the prime contractor in lieu of a contractor performance assessment from the government. The protester argued the subcontractor past performance report should have been given the same weight as a CPAR. But GAO found that while the subcontractor report had rated the protester highly, the ratings in the report were not supported by a narrative. The agency did not err in discounting the subcontractor report.

Triple Canopy, Inc., GAO B-420691.2, B-420691.3


The Air Force issued a solicitation to holders of GSA’s One Acquisition Solutions for Integrated Services IDIQ contract. The solicitation sought to award a task order for base security operations. Award would be made on a best value tradeoff between past performance and price with past performance being significantly more important than price.

Three offerors, including Triple Canopy and ITA International, submitted proposals. The Air Force awarded the task order to ITA based on its past performance rating. ITA had submitted four past performance references and received a Satisfactory Confidence rating under the past performance factor. Triple Canopy submitted only one reference and had received a neutral past performance rating. Triple Canopy protested.


Relevance of Triple Canopy Reference

Triple Canopy contended the Air Force erred in finding its past performance reference only somewhat relevant. Triple Canopy had submitted a contract on which it served as a subcontractor. Triple Canopy maintained that the work it performed on that subcontract involved essentially the same scope, magnitude of effort, and complexities, as the solicitation.

GAO didn’t agree. GAO found that while Triple Canopy had made some high level references to performing similar tasks, these general references did not demonstrate experience performing the specific tasks enumerated in the solicitation’s performance work statement.

Neutral Past Performance Rating

Triple Canopy also argued that it should have received a higher past performance rating than the neutral rating it received. Triple Canopy had served as a subcontractor on the reference it submitted, so instead of a CPAR from the government, Triple Canopy had submitted a subcontractor past performance report (SPPR) completed by the prime contractor. Triple Canopy argued that it had received “very good” and “exceptional” ratings under the SPRR and that should have resulted in something better than a neutral past performance rating.

GAO, however, found that prime contractor’s ratings in the SPRR were not supported by any narrative showing the nature of the work performed or how Triple Canopy had exceeded the requirements. GAO concluded the agency had properly assessed a neutral rating.

Disparate Treatment

Triple Canopy argued the Air Force held ITA to a lower standard when evaluating past performance. Triple Canopy reasoned that both offerors’ past performance references had been assessed as somewhat relevant, but that ITA received a satisfactory rating while Triple Canopy received only a neutral rating.

GAO didn’t see a problem because Triple Canopy and ITA did not have similar past performance records. Triple Canopy had submitted one reference on which it had served as a subcontractor. ITA submitted four references. Also, for two of those references, ITA had served as the prime contractor and received exceptional CPARs ratings. GAO could not conclude the agency had disparately evaluated past performance.


Triple Canopy alleged the agency conducted unequal discussions when it allowed ITA to submit past performance information that was missing from its proposal, but then failed to disclose any concerns about Triple Canopy’s past performance.

But GAO found nothing suspicious about this. While Triple Canopy did not have a strong past performance record, there were no deficiencies or errors in its past performance submission. Thus, the Air Force was not required to conduct interchanges with Triple Canopy concerning past performance. ITA, however, failed to submit required past performance information. Given this omission, interchanges with ITA on past performance were warranted. The Air Force treated both offerors fairly.

Triple Canopy is represented by Jonathan Frankel and Karla J. Letsche of Frankel PLLC. The intervenor, ITA, is represented by Lauren N. Pennington and Anthony H. Anikeef of William Mullen. The agency is represented by Aaron J. Weaver, Erika Whelan Retta, Beatrice K. Foster, and Cheronne R. Wilson of the Air Force. GAO attorneys Paula A. Williams and Evan D. Wesser participated in the preparation of the decision.

–Case summary by Craig LaChance, Senior Editor

GAO - Triple Canopy