On March 22, 2012, we reported on an opinion by Judge Bush of the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) in which she said it was illegal to convert a best value tradeoff procurement to a lowest price, technically acceptable (LPTA) buy. The two are entirely different, she point out. On August 5, 2012, we reported on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) decision to the same effect. We then called for removal of "continuum" from FAR 15.101 in our August 13, 2012 opinion piece. Then, on September 8, 2012, we reported on a major effort by Alan Chovtkin to address the proper use of LPTA. During the meeting Alan criticized the use of the word "continuum" and he was right.
Apologists have suggested the use of the word should not be confusing since best value can involve tradeoffs or LPTA. Not in the real world. Best value has come to mean tradeoffs and LPTA precludes their use. They are different animals. As Alan says, even if there is a continuum, where is the middle?
Well, it is confusing and the confusion continues. Today we learned of another situation in which the contracting officer cast aside the promised best value tradeoff and made an award to those offerors with the best technical scores. In another case we know about, the tradeoff promised in section M of the solicitation was abandoned and LPTA was used.
Contracting officers apparently think that "continuum" means a sliding scale permitting them to move from one evaluation and source selection scheme to another without amending the solicitation and informing all the offerors. Even if there are only a few cases, and it might be overkill to remove the word continuum, we think Alan may be on to something with his "where's the middle" comment. Indeed, doesn't a continuum connote more than two choices? And, apologists notwithstanding, there are two distinct choices. Read Judge Bush.
Yes, read Judge Bush. She has written the best book on best value you have ever read. See our discussion of March 22, 2012. http://spriggslawgroup.blogspot.com/2012/03/best-book-on-best-value-you-will-ever.html Her opinion (there's a link in our article) should be must reading for all contracting officers. And ignore the word continuum. Erase it from your vocabulary. You have tradeoffs (best value) and no tradeoffs (LPTA). Pure and simple.