Is DOD moving away from LPTA?

By Bob Lohfeld

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Industry has long objected to the use of lowest priced, technically acceptable procurement strategies for technical/professional services and complex solution procurements, and it now appears that DOD is moving away from this practice.

Narrowing the use of LPTA

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Frank Kendall, issued a memorandum on March 4 to clear up confusion about when LPTA is appropriate as a source selection process. His memo states LPTA “has a clear, but limited place in the source selection best value continuum” and narrowly defines when LPTA is appropriate for DOD procurements. This memo signals a shift away from the LPTA source selection process.

Download a copy of Kendall’s memo titled, “Appropriate Use of Lowest Priced, Technically Acceptable Source Selection Process and Contract Type.”

According to Kendall, LPTA should only be used when procurements meet four specific conditions:

  1. The requirements are well defined;
  2. The risk of unsuccessful contract performance is minimal;
  3. Price is a significant factor in the source selection; and
  4. There is neither value, need, nor willingness to pay for higher performance.

For technical service and solution bids, I would argue that none of these four conditions can be met. In most technical bids, requirements cannot be defined to a standard of acceptability that is understood by government and industry and that can be expressed in terms of performance measures that can be evaluated on an acceptable/unacceptable basis. It is hard enough to define the work, let alone a pass/fail standard that can be applied in proposals. Generally, the risk of failure in technical bids is other than minimal, and the consequences of failure can be hugely detrimental to DOD and the warfighter. This is especially true in IT service and solution bids.

Finally, in every technical services or solution bid, increased performance generally provides additional value to the government, and the government should strive to achieve an innovative, cost-effective solution to meet mission needs and maintain our technological advantage. more

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