GSA ISSUES RULE CLARIFYING USE OF LPTA ON NON-DOD CONTRACTS
Federal civilian agencies will only be able to use Low Priced Technically Acceptable (LPTA) contracts when “the agency can comprehensively and clearly describe the minimum requirements in terms of performance objectives…” according to a final rule published by GSA this week. The civilian agency rule comes nearly three months after the issue of a similar Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) rule. The net impact of the new rules is that the use of LPTA contracting will be allowed only in certain specific circumstances. Agencies will have to make a determination that “technical proposals will require no, or minimal, subjective judgment by the source selection authority as to the desirability of one offeror’s proposal versus a competing proposal.” Each rulefurther directs contracting officers to avoid, to the maximum extent practicable, using LPTA contracting when acquiring a host of services, including information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, or other knowledge-based professional services. The rules come as a result of legislation that essentially expressed Congressional concern over the perceived widespread use of LPTA contracts, sometimes to the government’s detriment. Industry, too, had long expressed concerns that LPTA contracts were being used in a variety of areas where subjective determinations were required in order to determine which offer actually represented the best overall value to the government. The overall intent is to ensure that LPTA contracting is used only in appropriate circumstances. Contractors should be prepared to work with government clients to ensure that they know about both rules and encourage acquisition approaches that are appropriate to specific circumstances.