Industry has been long frustrated with the government’s improper use of Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source selection. LPTA sits at one end of the best value continuum for source selection and is appropriate for certain requirements, such as when buying commodities or services that there is no meaningful value offered above a technically-acceptable threshold. The Federal Acquisition Regulation and Department of Defense (DoD) guidance instructs the acquisition workforce to make source selections based on the specific requirements of acquisition and that they provide the best value to the warfighter and taxpayer. However, too often the government uses LPTA to the detriment of innovation, agency mission, and lifecycle cost.
In March 2015, Under Secretary Kendall issued a memorandum with clear guidance for using LPTA appropriately. Still, the Department uses LPTA in direct contradiction with that memorandum, even on major, high-visibility programs. One example is the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) use of LPTA in its ENCORE III multiple award contract vehicle for various categories of IT products and services. Despite substantial concern raised by industry in the pre-solicitation phase regarding the use of LPTA, DISA has followed through with this approach.
DoD has made maintaining technological superiority a top priority, however, industry is concerned that in practice it continues to equate “best value” with “lowest cost,” which fails to reward the innovation it desires. In Pathways to Transformation NDIA promoted the exploration of “value concepts” for incorporation into the Defense Acquisition System. Such measures would be highly beneficial if incorporated into source selection decisions.