When you as a government contractor decide to file a bid protest that challenges the agency’s evaluation of your proposal, there is a striking difference between a government solicitation that will be evaluated on a lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA Contract) source selection process versus a proposal that will be evaluated under a traditional best value analysis under FAR Part 15.
Contractors still make crucial mistakes at the bidding stage because of confusion with how the agency actually evaluates LPTA bids. At the bid protest stage, this results in a damaging approach simply because the confusing analysis causes companies to file a non-winning case.
What is a Lowest Price Technically Acceptable
When the federal government uses a lowest price technically acceptable source selection criteria under FAR 15.101-1, the solicitation usually calls for a proposal that technically meets the solicitation’s evaluation criteria. When comparing LPTA vs best value, the evaluation approach is more popular nowadays. However, contractors still have problems submitting competitive bids.
- The evaluation approach is simply to make sure that each proposal meets the minimum technical requirements on the solicitation.
- How much better your technical proposal is compared to the competition is not a consideration.
- Lowest price technically acceptable evaluations require no tedious trade off source selection process.
Avoid costly mistakes: companies frequently run into problems when the agency decides that their proposals fail the acceptability threshold as set forth in the solicitation. When protesting the decision, companies make costly legal mistakes by utilizing an incorrect legal analysis. As a result, agencies tend to win bid protest decisions.
New DOD Policy of lowest cost technically acceptable usage. The new policy establishes a baseline rule that DOD agencies should avoid using lowest price technically acceptable procurement evaluations if it would deny DOD with the benefits of cost and technical trade-offs. By using the appropriate bidding approach in an LPTA procurement, companies should simply focus on first being technical acceptable but also keep their pricing as low as possible. Negotiated procurements, on the other hand, must follow the evaluation criteria as spelled out in the solicitation.
FAR Part 15.101-2 The Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Source Selection Process
Under FAR 15.101-2, the government’s LPTA source selection process occurs when the agency thinks that it can achieve its best value by simply looking for the lowest priced proposal that has met the minimum technical requirements.
First step: When the government receives your proposal, the first step is to make sure that it meets the stated solicitation’s technical requirements. If your proposal fails this initial test, you can expect a rejection as being non-responsive to the solicitation requirements.
Second step: If the government agency decides that you have met the acceptable technical requirements, then they move to award to the lowest priced bidder.
LPTA Evaluation Factors and Criteria
Evaluation Factors – Non-price factors: With a lowest cost technically acceptable proposal, the non-price factors are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. When your proposal meets the minimum technical requirements, the technical bid evaluation is finished. The agency then moves to the pricing phase.
- Even with LPTA procurements, your proposal first has to be responsive to the solicitation requirements.
FAR Part 15 Negotiated FAR Best Value Contracting Evaluations
Comparison to negotiated procurements: By contrast, when the federal government wants to sift through the technical details and then conduct a FAR best value source selection process, it will advertise the solicitation as a “negotiated contract.” This is a more rigorous bid selection process.
In applying best value source selection evaluation criteria, the first step is to see if your proposal is responsive to the solicitation requirements. If so, the source selection board may then conduct a competitive range determination.
Trade off phase: The source selection team in best value contracting actually gets to compare proposals against each other when conducting its FAR best value and trade off analysis.
- Contracting agencies require a substantial amount of documentation to support best value and trade off decisions.
- Lowest price technically acceptable source selections still have to be adequately documented.
Paying a higher price: Unless your particular solicitation was a lowest price technically acceptable procurement, the government could justify paying a price premium for your competitor’s technically superior proposal under contract by negotiation regulations FAR 15.
Agency documentation is necessary: So long as the agency documents its rationale for paying a higher price, GAO will typically agree with the agency unless the agency decision was unreasonable or violated procurement law.
Lowest Cost / LPTA Bid Protest Tips
One of the most difficult awards to protest is the agency’s lowest cost technically acceptable selection process and award decision. Knowing what issues to focus on is essential to winning a bid protest. Some questions that contractors should consider include:
- Did the agency first evaluate the awardee’s proposal for proposal responsiveness?
- Did the source selection team actually evaluate your technical proposal before deciding that it was unacceptable or non-responsible?
- Did your debriefing reveal that the source selection process included a comparison between all offerors’ technical proposals?
- After evaluation and a decision that your bid was technically unacceptable and non-responsible, did the Contracting Officer refer you to the SBA (if you are a small business)?
The above include only a few of the common legal issues that arise with lowest cost technically acceptable LPTA evaluation factors and best value negotiated procurement bid protests.