Can you award to a higher-priced offeror with the same adjectival rating as another lower-priced offeror?

Scenario: You are conducting a FAR part 15 source selection using Past Performance & Price with Past Performance significantly more important than Price. You wrote the RFP IAW the DoD Source Selection Procedures.

You receive 3 proposals and complete the Price & Past Performance evaluation with the following results:

Offeror A
PP Rating: Satisfactory Confidence
Price: $25M

Offeror B
PP Rating: Substantial Confidence
Price: $22M

Offeror C
PP Rating: Substantial Confidence
Price: $22.1M

While offeror B & offeror C both received a “Substantial Confidence” against the criteria in the RFP, offeror C has a significantly better recent/relevant past performance history.

Based on the details of the past performance evaluation, the SSA believes it would be worth paying an extra $100K to award to offeror C.

Can the SSA select offeror C for award?

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Yes. (I will cite the case law later)

Edited to add case:

Sevatec, Inc., B-413116.52, B-413116.59, May 9, 2017


First, we note that the cited award criteria provide only that price “could” be a determining factor–the RFP did not mandate that price be determinative under any circumstances. Id. Second, and more importantly here, as described above, the SSA did not consider the selected firms with overall ratings equal to Sevatec to be “substantially equal,” but concluded that those firm’s proposals contained notable advantages under corporate experience–the most important evaluation factor.[6] Nor do equal adjectival ratings require such a result.

In this regard, our Office has consistently recognized that ratings, be they numerical, adjectival, or color, are merely guides for intelligent decision-making in the procurement process. Citywide Managing Servs. of Port Washington, Inc., B-281287.12, B-281287.13, Nov. 15, 2000, 2001 CPD ¶ 6 at 11. Where the agency perceived and recorded distinguishing advantages associated with the overall equally adjectivally-rated proposals, the record supports a conclusion that the proposals were not “substantially equal,” and that the SSA’s decision to accept a price premium to select the more advantageous proposals was reasonable, and in no way inconsistent with the award terms of the RFP.


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Great case for discussion. I keep having issues finding good instances of real trades made on past performance in our field. I’m hoping someone has some experience there.