Federal civilian agencies will now face new restrictions on when and how they can use Lowest Price Technically Acceptable source selection procedures. A new rule in the Federal Acquisition Regulation is the latest in a series of measures aimed at regulating the use of LPTA source selection procedures. The new rule implements an October 2019 proposed rule and takes effect on February 16, 2021.
Continue Reading New FAR Rule Continues Shake-Up of LPTA Procurements

As previously discussed on this blog, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2018 imposed new limitations on when the Department of Defense can use Lowest Price Technically Acceptable source selection methods.  Just last month, the Department of Defense issued a final rule amending the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to implement those provisions.  Now, in Inserso Corp., B-417791, B-417791.3, Nov. 4, 2019, GAO has weighed in on what counts as LPTA for purposes of those restrictions.  This decision may indicate a potentially significant limitation on the reach of the NDAA provisions, new DFARS rule, and proposed FAR rule.

Continue Reading What Is Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable? GAO Clarifies Reach of New LPTA Restrictions

On October 2, 2019, the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and NASA issued a proposed rule that would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation to establish new restrictions on when and under what circumstances civilian agencies may employ Lowest Price Technically Acceptable source selection procedures.  The proposed rule would implement Section 880 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, and follows hot on the heels of DoD’s final rule making similar — but not identical — amendments to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement.  (See our recent blog post on the new DFARS rule.)

Continue Reading Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable Procurements Are Less and Less Acceptable: Proposed FAR Rule Further Continues Shake-Up of LPTA Procurements

In a proposed rule issued earlier this month, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) seeks to incorporate into the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement (“DFARS”) restrictions on the use of the lowest price technically acceptable (“LPTA”) source selection method from the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.  This proposed rule makes clear that these NDAA-imposed restrictions are not going away any time soon, and that DoD contracting officers need to engage in a thorough and reasoned analysis before conducting an LPTA procurement.
Continue Reading Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Solicitations No Longer Acceptable? Reviewing the Department of Defense’s Proposed Changes to the DFARS

In Starry Associates, Inc. v. United States, No. 16-44C (Fed. Cl. July 27, 2016), the Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”) sharply criticized a Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) decision to cancel a solicitation following two bid protests at the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”).  The history and outcome of the case are exceptional among bid protests — an area of the law characterized by deference to agency decisions and arbitrary-and-capricious review.

HHS’s Program Support Center (“PSC”) issued a lowest-price, technically acceptable solicitation to procure business-operations services in support of HHS’s financial management system.  Protestor Starry Associates, Inc. was the incumbent, but Intellizant, LLC won the award as the lowest-price offeror.  Starry ended up filing three protests at GAO and the instant protest at the COFC, alleging that the procurement process was “tainted” in favor of Intellizant.  Protests accusing the agency of bias rarely prevail, but the COFC’s decision laid out in detail “a series of actions which,” by the court’s description, “reflect a lack of fidelity to the procurement process.”  And while the court declined to formally determine whether the procurement was tainted by bias, it functionally ended up in the same place.


Continue Reading HHS Seeing Stars After Recent Loss in COFC Bid Protest

On April 30, 2015, the House Armed Services Committee passed H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2016, with an amendment (Log #325rl) that could shape how the Department of Defense (“DoD”) acquires audit and audit readiness services for its Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (“FIAR”) Plan. Under the FIAR Plan, DoD must validate the audit readiness of its financial statements by September 30, 2017, and it must submit to Congress an audit of its FY 2018 financial books by March 31, 2019. The amendment states that, for DoD to meet these deadlines, “it is imperative that [DoD] not sacrifice contracts with firms who have the proper credentials and expertise” to provide DoD with audit and audit readiness services. Hence, the amendment bars the use of a lowest-price, technically-acceptable (“LPTA”) evaluation method to procure such services unless DoD (1) establishes “the values and metrics for the services being procured, including domain expertise and experience, size and scope of [an] offeror’s team, personnel qualifications and certifications, technology, and tools”; and (2) considers offerors’ past performance history.
Continue Reading An Acceptable Proposal: Set Appropriately High, Clear Standards for DoD’s Auditors and LPTA Competitions