Contracts & Legal

Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA)

Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) source selection process (FAR 15.101-2) is where the government determines that the lowest price is awardable over the complaint technical offering of all proposals. LPTA is appropriate only when the government “expects” it can achieve the best value by selecting the technically acceptable proposal and offering the lowest evaluated price.  [1]

Definition: The lowest price technically acceptable source selection process is appropriate when best value is expected to result from selection of the technically acceptable proposal with the lowest evaluated price. [1]

The Purpose of Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LTPA)

The Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LTPA) technique in government source sections enables the government to save money by choosing the lowest-priced offer that still satisfies the essential technical standards.

When to Use Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) [2]

  • Contract requirements are well-defined, simple, or reoccurring;
  • There is a low risk for poor performance;
  • There is little development work to be completed; and
  • There is no appreciable value to DOD for performance exceeding the technical requirements.

FAR 15.101 Best Value Continuum

An agency can obtain best value in negotiated acquisitions by using any one or a combination of source selection approaches. In different types of acquisitions, the relative importance of cost or price may vary. For example, in acquisitions where the requirement is clearly definable and the risk of unsuccessful contract performance is minimal, cost or price may play a dominant role in source selection. The less definitive the requirement, the more development work required, or the greater the performance risk, the more technical or past performance considerations may play a dominant role in source selection.

FAR 15.101-2 Lowest price technically acceptable source selection process.

(a)  The lowest price technically acceptable source selection process is appropriate when the best value is expected to result from the selection of the technically acceptable proposal with the lowest evaluated price.

(b)  When using the lowest price technically acceptable process, the following apply:

(1)  The evaluation factors and significant subfactors that establish the requirements of acceptability shall be set forth in the solicitation. Solicitations shall specify that award will be made on the basis of the lowest evaluated price of proposals meeting or exceeding the acceptability standards for non-cost factors. If the contracting officer documents the file pursuant to 15.304(c)(3)(iii), past performance need not be an evaluation factor in lowest price technically acceptable source selections. If the contracting officer elects to consider past performance as an evaluation factor, it shall be evaluated in accordance with 15.305. However, the comparative assessment in 15.305(a)(2)(i) does not apply. If the contracting officer determines that a small business’ past performance is not acceptable, the matter shall be referred to the Small Business Administration for a Certificate of Competency determination, in accordance with the procedures contained in subpart 19.6 and 15 U.S.C. 637(b)(7)).

(2)  Tradeoffs are not permitted.

(3)  Proposals are evaluated for acceptability but not ranked using the non-cost/price factors.

(4)  Exchanges may occur (see 15.306).

6 Factors to Use Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA)

Section 813 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires a change to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to state that LPTA source selection criteria be used only in situations in which the following six factors are fulfilled.

  1. DoD is able to comprehensively and clearly describe the minimum requirements expressed in terms of performance objectives, measures, and standards that will be used to determine acceptability of offers;
  2. DoD would realize no, or minimal, value from a contract proposal exceeding the minimum technical or performance requirements set forth in the request for proposal;
  3. the proposed technical approaches will require no, or minimal, subjective judgment by the source selection authority (SSA) as to the desirability of one offeror’s proposal versus a competing proposal;
  4. the SSA has a high degree of confidence that a review of technical proposals of offerors other than the lowest bidder would not result in the identification of factors that could provide value or benefit to the DoD;
  5. the contracting officer has included a justification for the use LPTA evaluation methodology in the contract file; and
  6. DOD has determined that the lowest price reflects full lifecycle costs, including for operations and support.

When Not to Use Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA)

Additionally, to the maximum extent practicable, the use of LPTA source selection criteria shall be avoided in the case of procurement that is predominately for the acquisition of—

  1. information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, advanced electronic testing, audit or audit readiness services, or other knowledge-based professional services;
  2. personal protective equipment; or
  3. knowledge-based training or logistics services in contingency operations or other operations outside the United States, including in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) Best Practices

Several pieces of advice and lessons learned when using the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) technique in government source selection can aid source selection officials in making wise choices. To name a few:

  1. Clearly Define Technical Acceptability Criteria: It is essential to create clear technical acceptability criteria before beginning the source selection process. This entails determining the minimum standards and requirements a proposal must achieve to be regarded as technically acceptable. A fair evaluation will be ensured by clear criteria, which will assist in preventing subjective judgments.
  2. Prioritize Objective Evaluation variables: Although the LPTA places a lot of attention on pricing, it’s crucial to have additional objective evaluation variables. Determine the important technical components necessary for successful contract performance and give each component the weight it deserves. This ensures that proposals are assessed comprehensively, considering both technical merit and cost.
  3. Create Appropriate Evaluation Resources: LPTA evaluations can take a lot of time and demand careful examination of technical ideas. Allocate enough time and resources, such as employees, to thoroughly evaluate each proposal. This helps avoid speeding the procedure and guarantees a thorough evaluation of technical concerns.
  4. Create a Detailed Assessment Plan: Create a thorough assessment plan that details the evaluation’s methodology, procedures, and standards. To ensure uniform use and comprehension of the evaluation approach, the plan should be distributed to every evaluation team member. A well-organized evaluation plan makes the process more efficient and transparent.
  5. Carry out Thorough Evaluation and Documentation: Every proposal should be assessed against the predetermined standards for technical acceptability. Make that assessments are completed properly, consistently, and objectively. To support the choices taken during the selection process, provide documentation of the evaluation results and the reasoning behind each assessment. Accountability and defense of the source selection choice depend on thorough documentation.
  6. Specify Any Ambiguities: Ask offerors for clarification regarding any ambiguities or uncertainties in their bids during the evaluation process. This helps prevent misunderstandings and guarantees an objective assessment. As long as the offerors follow the agreed evaluation timeline, any shortcomings or ambiguities found throughout the review should be allowed to be addressed.
  7. Express Expectations Clearly: Ensure all offerors know the review process, standards, and expectations. This aids offerors in comprehending the evaluation procedure and submitting pertinent bids that consider the technical specifications. A fair and transparent supplier selection process is fostered through timely and effective communication.
  8. 8. Conduct a Price Analysis: While price is important in LPTA, it’s important to do a price analysis to see if the suggested prices are reasonable and fair. To ensure that the prices supplied are fair and offer value for money, compare prices with historical data, market research, and independent cost estimates.
  9. Take Risk Mitigation into Account: LPTA evaluations should consider risk mitigation in addition to technical acceptability and cost. Analyze the potential hazards connected to each offer, considering factors including the offeror’s track record, financial stability, and ability to deliver. Risk assessment ensures that the chosen offeror can effectively provide the needed goods or services.
  10. Constantly Improve the Process: After the source selection process is complete, analyze and evaluate how well the LPTA technique worked. Determine any areas that want improvement and take the lessons learned to heart when choosing sources in the future. This iterative technique aids in process improvement and improves subsequent decision-making.

Remember that while LPTA can be a valuable strategy for some acquisitions, it might not be appropriate for others. Before choosing to use this strategy, carefully assess the nature of the requirement and if LPTA is consistent with the agency’s goals.

AcqNotes and References:

Updated: 7/14/2023

Rank: G3.5

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