But then came budget austerity. Then came a dwindling federal acquisition workforce, overworked and under educated. Then came competition born from the austerity making it too much trouble for the procurement workforce to deal with best value. (Yes, LPTA is supposedly a form of best value but it is not.) In its true, purest form, best value is involves analyzing price and technical ingenuity and perhaps paying more to achieve superior performance. LPTA, like advertised procurement (sealed bidding), fits commodity buying perfectly. Complex requirements, however, are entirely different. Best value trade offs are a perfect fit there.
LPTA should not be used for complex solutions. Greater benefits and long-term results are achieved by decisions based on value. LPTA has no discriminators for technical superiority. LPTA is all about adequate and cheap. Why invest in research and development in the LPTA world? The technical bar is the lowest competitive common denominator and the award goes to the contractor most willing to buy in. Yes, that's another problem. Buying in is back in vogue.
Our friends at the Professional Services Council (PSC) have just published their Services Sector Review which on page 36 contains many of these same thoughts and points and concludes:
Denying bidders credit for the innovations and performance enhancements that drive long-term efficiencies, or other discriminators, offers industry no incentive to be anything beyond mediocre. As a result of bidders being driven to mediocrity, government contracts could actually cost more in the long run and perform worse than if the government had evaluated bids based on best-value.Budget austerity does not mean we must lower expectations. The government acquisition workforce will have to work a little harder, to be sure. But the reward will be in maintaining our incentives to excellence. We just don't need to lower our expectations. We really should do all we can to prevent our expectations being pulled lower by short sighted, easy way out procurement solutions.