Federal professional services firms should all breath a sign of relief— one of the many changes of the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the government-wide restriction on the application of Lowest-Priced Technically Acceptable (LPTA) as the basis of award on complex professional and IT services contracts. The specific language in NDAA Section 880, paragraph (a) states the restriction of LPTA be used “in circumstances that would deny the Government the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process.”
The NDAA allows a few exceptions that permit agencies to use LPTA. One is when the executive agency or contracting officer can determine that the technical requirements are so clearly defined that a trade-off would not result in value or benefit to the agency. Another is when the contracting officer has an included a justification for the use of a LPTA in the contract file.
These additional levels of justification would make it difficult on complex opportunities to justify LPTA bids.
Further, paragraph c states to the maximum extent practicable, the use of LPTA source selection criteria shall be avoided in the case of a procurement that is predominately for the acquisition of
- Information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, advanced electronic testing, audit or audit readiness services, health care services and records, telecommunications devices and services, or other knowledge-based professional services;
- Personal protective equipment; or
- Knowledge-based training or logistics services in contingency operations or other operations outside the United States, including in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The NDAA requires the Comptroller General of the United States to provide reports on all LPTA contracts exceeding $5M and an explanation of their justification under the NDAA.
As you seek opportunities and respond to bids, keep in mind these new changes and if an award is not granted, when applicable, ALWAYS request a debriefing. Debriefings provide valuable insight into source selection justifications that will help you improve or that may result information to justify protest.
You can see the complete 2019 NDAA and the many other changes here on the congressional site and the FAR is expected revision in early 2019, likely under FAR 15.101.2 — Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Source Selection Process.
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