Understanding how to navigate LPTA evaluation criteria mistakes can allow you to get a second bite at the apple.
Lowest Price Technically Acceptable, lowest price technically acceptable 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 the lowest evaluated price 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 the 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 – LPTA Meaning in Government Contracting?
LPTA means that initially in the federal procurement planning phase, the contracting officer and acquisition personnel decides that the best course of action to procure construction or services contracts is to use the lowest price that is technically acceptable instead of the best value trade-off approach. LPTA meaning suggests that when evaluating a contractor’s bid, the government first has to decide if the bid is technically acceptable, given the solicitation requirements, and if so then pick the lowest price for purposes of awarding the contract.
When is LPTA in Government Contract Used for? 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 factors (LPTA contracts) 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 with LPTA 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 evaluation process is used when the best value is expected to result from the selection of the technically acceptable proposal with the lowest evaluated price.
- The government evaluates the 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 Lowest Evaluated Price Technically Acceptable Evaluation Factors & 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 the 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 on 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.
See Information About Getting a FAR Part 8 Vs FAR Part 15 Debriefing Before Filing a Post Award Bid Protest.
LPTA Technical Evaluation Criteria and Challenging the LPTA Contract Awards at GAO
FAR Lowest Price Technically Acceptable 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. Contractors should look closer at the technical evaluation criteria and see whether the government actually followed the stated requirements
- 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 you wait until after bid submission then to protest the evaluation scheme after the fact, the opposing attorney may move to dismiss the protest because you should have challenged the terms and conditions of the solicitation earlier.
- If there was a mathematical error then you can challenge the agency’s lowest evaluated price conclusion.
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 contracts and evaluation factors and lowest technically acceptable source selection decisions, contact a government contracts Bid Protest Attorney. Call Watson’s government contract protest lawyers at 1-866-601-5518 for immediate help.