The DoD’s Use of Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) Price Selection
By: Jacques Gansler, William Lucyshyn
Budgetary constraints, the resulting increase in the number of bid protests, and an insufficient acquisition workforce have seemingly conspired to propel the use of lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) evaluation criteria by the Department of Defense (DoD). Under LPTA, the government agency awards the contract to the offeror submitting the lowest price proposal that meets the technical requirements.
Its expanded use has been met with opposition from segments of the contractor community, particularly those that provide high-end, complex services for which a thorough examination of “trade-offs” between cost and non-cost factors is often more suitable. These contractors assert, and rightly so, that they are offering better value to the government—which may come at a higher price.
The use of LPTA can be inappropriate at times, especially when the technology in question is complex or unprecedented, or when lives are at stake. However, LPTA has also been recently subjected to undue criticism. LPTA has been used successfully in the past, under the right circumstances—that is, when the requirement is clearly definable and when the risk of unsuccessful contract performance is minimal. For instance, LPTA is often used to acquire interchangeable commodities. In addition, LPTA is used when higher performance would add little value and is believed to be unnecessary, often resulting in little added value.