When you as a government contractor decide to file a bid protest that challenges the agency’s LPTA contract evaluation of your proposal, there is a striking difference between a government solicitation that will be evaluated on a lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA Government Contracts) source selection process versus a proposal that will be evaluated under a traditional best value analysis under FAR Part 15.
Contractors using DOD source selection procedures still make crucial mistakes at the bidding stage because of confusion with how the agency LPTA evaluations of government contracts actually work. At the bid protest stage, this can cause great confusion and ultimately a non-winning case.
Does Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Contracts Limit Your Rights When Challenging the Agency’s Source Selection Decision?
Some contractors find out the answer pretty quickly. The problem that many government contractors find is that they have a hard time deciding what to challenge in a bid protest involving a lowest price technically acceptable government contract. According to a recently published Article, “before employing LPTA procedures at all, a contracting officer must determine that each of these conditions is present:
- The minimum requirements can be described clearly and comprehensively, and in terms of performance objectives, measures, and standards necessary to determine the acceptability of offerors;
- No greater than “minimal” value will be realized from a proposal that exceeds the minimum technical or performance requirements;
- The offerors’ proposed technical approaches will require no greater than minimum subjective judgment by the Source Selection Authority (“SSA”) about the desirability of selecting one proposal over another;
- The SSA believes with a high degree of confidence that he or she will not identify characteristics or benefits by reviewing the technical proposals of all offerors that would provide value or benefit to the government;
- No greater than minimal future innovation or technological advantage will be realized from use of a difference source selection process;
- Goods sought to be purchased must be “predominately” expendable in nature, non-technical, or have a short life expectancy;
- The contract file must contain a determination that the lowest price reflects the full life-cycle costs of the products or goods being acquired; and
- The contracting officer must describe the circumstances justifying the use of the LPTA source selection process and document those considerations in the contract file.”
What are Lowest Price Technically Acceptable LPTA Evaluations in Government Contracting?
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 government contract LPTA evaluation / LPTA vs best value bidding, 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. The government may issue you a letter explaining why your company was either deemed technically unacceptable or did not meet the solicitation requirements.
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 Source Selection Procedures and Policy for Best Price Evaluations
The new policy establishes a baseline rule that DOD agencies should avoid using LPTA evaluations if it would deny DOD with the benefits of cost and technical trade-offs. By using the appropriate bidding approach in LPTA contracts procurements, companies should simply focus on first being technical acceptable but also keep their pricing as low as possible. DOD source selection procedures for best price evaluations in negotiated procurements, on the other hand, must follow the evaluation criteria as spelled out in the solicitation that also incorporates a comparison of offeror prices.
FAR Part 15.101-2 The Lowest Price Technically Acceptable LPTA Evaluation Criteria and Source Selection Process
What are LPTA Evaluations in Government Contracts – ?
Under FAR 15.101-2, the government’s LPTA evaluation and 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 for conducting a trade off.
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 Contract Evaluation Factors and Criteria for Best Price Selections
Non-price factors: With a low price technically acceptable evaluation criteria (LPTA government contracts), the non-price LPTA evaluation 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 best price evaluations phase.
- Even with , your proposal first has to be responsive to the solicitation requirements.
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.
LPTA vs 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.
Best Price Evaluations and Government Paying a Higher Price
Unless your particular solicitation was an LPTA contract, 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 Price Technically Acceptable Evaluation Factors / LPTA Contract 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 when it comes to LPTA evaluations 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 includes only a few of the common legal issues that arise with lowest price technically acceptable LPTA evaluation factors (LPTA government contracts) and FAR best value negotiated procurement bid protests. Call Watson & Associates LPTA contract lawyers for immediate help with at 1-866-601-5518.