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Myth-Busting the LPTA Conundrum

As fiscal pressures grow and agency budgets shrink, contractors are increasingly facing lowest-price, technically acceptable (LPTA) procurements. Yet the procurement community has not found common ground on when and how LPTA should be used. All too often, the contracting industry, outside legal counsel, and procuring agencies are in express conflict. Consider the following: Contractors. Industry-oriented letters and white papers criticize agencies for using LPTA to procure sophisticated, vaguely defined, missionessential supplies and services. E.g., “The Challenge of Applying the LPTA Process to the Procurement of Complex Services” (November 2012) (TASC White Paper); Letter from Stan Soloway, President and CEO, Prof’l Servs. Council, to Hon. Frank Kendall, Undersec’y of Def. (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) (Sept. 26, 2012). Outside legal counsel. Representing frustrated contractors, outside counsel use bid protests to challenge LPTA methodologies—an adversarial tactic that can backfire, harming clients’ customer relations and setting bad precedent for the industry. E.g., Grant Thornton, LLP, Comp. Gen. Dec. B-408464, 2013 CPD 238; PDL Toll, Comp. Gen. Dec. B-402970, 2010 CPD 191; Crewzers Fire Crew Transport, Inc., Comp. Gen. Dec. B-402530, 2010 CPD  117. Procuring agencies. On the one hand, agencies might acknowledge that LPTA has limitations. E.g., “Implementation Directive for Better Buying Power 2.0—Achieving Greater Buying Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending,” Memorandum from Under Sec’y of Def. (AT&L) (April 24, 2013)

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