There is a difference between "past performance" and "relevant experience".
A bidder on a task order for IT support services to the Department of Energy protested the award of that task order to another company based on a number of challenges including DOE's evaluation under the past performance and relevant experience criteria. The protestor contended that it was "incongruous for its quotation to be rated good under the relevant experience criterion yet outstanding under the past performance criterion given that (DOE) reviewed the same past performance projects under both criteria".
The solicitation advised vendors that award would be made on a "best-value" basis considering price and the following non-price criteria, listed in descending order of importance: business management, technical approach, past performance, and relevant experience. For purposes of award, the solicitation stated that the non-price criteria, when combined, were significantly more important than price.
The Comptroller General (CG) did not sustain the appeal. According to the CG, an agency's assessment under the past performance criterion considers the "quality of performance and successful performance relative to the scope, size, complexity and duration to the work described in the solicitation. In contract, an agency's assessment under the relevant experience criterion evaluated the relevance and extent that the contracts submitted for review are similar in size, scope and complexity to the work described in the performance work statement.
Thus, past performance related to how well a contractor performed, while relevant experience pertained to the type of work a contractor performed - two distinct criteria.
Given the fundamentally different nature of the evaluations, a rating in one factor would not automatically result in the same rating under the other.
The CG examined the record to ensure that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation's evaluation criteria and procurement statutes and regulations. The evaluation of experience and past performance by its very nature, is subjective, and a vendor's disagreement with an agency's evaluation judgments does not demonstrate that those judgments are unreasonable. The CG's review did not disclose any inconsistencies between DOE's evaluations and the solicitation's evaluation criteria.
You can read the entire decision here.