Lowest Price Technically Acceptable, LPTA evaluation factors are commonplace when it comes to federal procurement and litigating FAR protests. A common mistake made by contractors when litigating bid protest cases is that they mistake the source selection analysis for that of a traditionally negotiated contract under FAR 15.
There is a huge difference between the two concepts.
When is an LPTA Contract Used?
LPTA source selections are used for scenarios where Federal Government Contracting agencies would not see added value from a proposal exceeding the Government’s minimum technical or performance requirements. This is often the case when Agencies buy products instead of services.
Lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA contract) evaluation factors are often used for acquisitions of commercial or non-complex services or supplies that are clearly defined and expected to be low risk. Compare this with unbalanced bidding.
Submitting a proposal under the Solicitation’s with this type of evaluation criteria can sometimes be confusing to both bidders and even bid protest attorneys.
If you are going to file a lowest price technically acceptable GAO bid protest, it is important to understand that the LPTA process is used when the best value is expected to result from selection of the technically acceptable proposal with the lowest evaluated price.
- The government evaluates lowest price technically acceptable procurements on a pass/fail basis to see whether you meet the solicitation’s minimum technical requirements;
- If you meet the technical requirements, then the Agency merely selects the lowest priced proposal for award.
FAR 15.101-2 Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Source Selection Process.
Per FAR 15.101-2, the lowest price technically acceptable source selection process is appropriate when best value is expected to result from selection of the technically acceptable proposal with the lowest evaluated price.
(b) When using the lowest price technically acceptable process, the following apply:
(1) The evaluation factors and significant subfactors that establish the requirements of acceptability shall be set forth in the solicitation. Solicitations shall specify that award will be made on the basis of the lowest evaluated price of proposals meeting or exceeding the acceptability standards for non-cost factors. If the contracting officer documents the file pursuant to 15.304(c)(3)(iii), past performance need not be an evaluation factor in lowest price technically acceptable source selections. If the contracting officer elects to consider past performance as an evaluation factor, it shall be evaluated in accordance with 15.305. However, the comparative assessment in 15.305(a)(2)(i) does not apply. If the contracting officer determines that a small business’ past performance is not acceptable, the matter shall be referred to the Small Business Administration for a Certificate of Competency determination, in accordance with the procedures contained in subpart 19.6 and 15 USC 637(b)(7)).
(2) Tradeoffs are not permitted.
(3) Proposals are evaluated for acceptability but not ranked using the non-cost/price factors.
(4) Exchanges may occur (see 15.306).
Challenging Lowest Price Technically Acceptable LPTA Source Selection in a GAO FAR Protest
Government Agencies have a lot of discretion when evaluating proposals. When challenging the Agency’s LPTA contract evaluation factors and ultimate selection in a GAO bid protest, you also want to be careful when making allegations that the successful bidder did not propose sufficient labor hours or staff to meet the agency requirements.
- Arguments that your competition’s technical proposal was not as strong as yours will not win a bid protest.
- Arguing that the Agency converted the procurement from a best value procurement to LPTA evaluation factors can be tricky unless supported by facts.
- You must simply address the technical aspect of your proposal for inadequate evaluations or find some defect in the Agency’s actions.
- A lowest price technically acceptable GAO bid protest that is structured as though you disagree with the Agency’s analysis will more than likely fail.
- In a FAR protest, you want to focus the fact that the contracting agency failed to abide by technical evaluation criteria expressly stated in the solicitation.
- You also have to show that your proposal should have been rated acceptable but for the error made by the agency.
Challenging the LPTA Evaluation Factors & Contract Awards at GAO
LPTA evaluation factors in federal procurements can be risky when challenging the Agency’s award. Many contractors tend to only challenge the awardee’s low price when filing a protest. This is a costly mistake that can risk dismissal of the protest simply because the expressed language in the solicitation contemplates the Agency’s selection of the lowest price.
- In order to stand a chance of winning, either yourself or your lawyer must challenge the Agency’s technical evaluation of the awardee in addition to any factual reason why the agency misevaluated your proposal.
If the contracting officer determines that a small business’ past performance is not acceptable, the matter shall be referred to the Small Business Administration for a Certificate of Competency determination, by the rules contained in Subpart 19.6 and 15 USC 637 (b)(7)).
- Tradeoffs are not permitted.
- Proposals are evaluated for acceptability but not ranked using the non-cost/price factors.
- Exchanges may occur (see 15.306).
When you are contemplating filing a GAO bid protest for an LPTA contract solicitation, you should be able to articulate exactly where the Agency did not follow the expressed language of the solicitation to stand a chance of winning. At the bidding stage, you must simply concentrate on proposal writing that puts your best technical approach forward.
If you are contemplating filing a bid protest based on LPTA evaluation factors and source selection, contact a government contracts Bid Protest Attorney. Call 1-866-601-5518 for immediate help.