Small businesses have decried Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) acquisition evaluations as a race to the bottom prohibiting small businesses from profitably competing. A new rule published in the federal register responds to those complaints by revising the FAR by applying criteria for and limitations on the use of the LPTA source selection criteria in solicitations by narrowing the definition of circumstances in which LPTA may be used.

The final rule approved by Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will go into effect 16 February 2021 and amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) “(1) part 15 to specify the criteria that must be met in order to include lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) source selection criteria in a solicitation, and require solicitations predominantly for the acquisition of certain services and supplies to avoid the use of LPTA source selection criteria, to the maximum extent practicable; and (2) FAR parts 12, 13, 16, and 37 to point to the text in FAR part 15, as applicable.”

The change was initiated through the Section 880 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. Section 880 of the act requires use of the LPTA source selection process to be avoided, to the maximum extent possible in acquisition for various services and/or supplies, including acquisitions for ‘Information technology services” or “telecommunications devices and services.”  Coley discussed this in an earlier post: 2019 NDAA Restricts Government Use of LPTA.

The rule will only apply to acquisition above the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) or acquisition of Commercial/COTS items. The federal government’s desire to make this change is to “avoid the use of LPTA source selection criteria in circumstances that would deny the Government the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process.”

However, we believe the change will benefit small businesses ability to provide and win on sound technical experience and not be dismissed out right for marginally higher quotes.

The rule is not being applied to the GSA Federal Supply Schedule Program at this time, but GSA has stated that it will separately address the implementation of Section 880 outside of this current rule.  You can be assured that Coley will monitor GSA’s implementation of this provision and keep you updated. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at 210-402-6766 or by email at

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