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. If you don’t adequately position your proposal to rank under the LPTA evaluation factors, then it would be difficult to challenge the agency’s evaluation in a bid protest.
One of the biggest challenges in lowest cost technically acceptable evaluations is when the agency does or does not refer your proposal to the SBA for a certificate of competency evaluation. This is a tough sell. However, there are situations where the Agency should not refer your LPTA proposal to the SBA. When filing a bid protest, you should be mindful of the statutory circumstances.
NDAA 2017 & LPTA Contract Avoidance
Procurement legislation not only limits use of LPTA evaluations but also suggests that the procurement approach is not suited “in circumstances that would deny the department the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process.”. NDAA 2017 specifically recommends avoiding LPTA government contracts such as:
“(1) information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, advanced electronic testing, audit or audit readiness services, or other knowledge-based professional services;
(2) personal protective equipment; or
(3) knowledge-based training or logistics services in contingency operations or other operations outside the United States, including in Afghanistan or Iraq.”
Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Evaluation Factors – What are LPTA Government Contracts?
When is an LPTA Government Contract Used? LPTA government contracts 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.
Low price technically acceptable evaluation (LPTA contracts) 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 cost technically acceptable GAO bid protest, it is important to understand that the FAR 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 cost 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.
Challenging Low Price Technically Acceptable Evaluation & Source Selection in a GAO Protest
Government Agencies have a lot of discretion when evaluating proposals. When challenging the Agency’s LPTA government contracts evaluation factors and ultimate source 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 cost 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
FAR 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.
Under LPTA source selection rules, 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 in LPTA government contracts.
- 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 FAR LPTA contracts 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 lowest technically acceptable source selection decisions, contact a government contracts Bid Protest Attorney. Call 1-866-601-5518 for immediate help.