We never thought we would ever say this but forget FAR on best value and LPTA. Listen to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Court of Federal Claims (COFC). As we have written over and over again, GAO and COFC have said it is illegal to turn a solicitation announcing a best value tradeoff analysis into a lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) procurement without amending the solicitation to announce the change to the prospective competitors.
And we also have written about the confusing language in the regulation which apparently suggests to some contracting officers that there is a continuum along which they can slide in the source selection process which results in awarding on the basis of LPTA when the agency has stated in the solicitation that a tradeoff analysis will be performed. Again, and hopefully for the last time, best value, in the real world use of the language, means a tradeoff analysis will be performed. Best value and tradeoffs are synonymous. LPTA proscribes tradeoffs. They are two different animals. Read our prior discussions.
What often happens in the real world is that best value technical evaluations have been scored as equal (everybody gets a good) and then the award goes to the lowest priced proposal. No, there is nothing wrong with that if in fact the evaluations really are valid and defensible. However, equalization that is forced by a desire to get to the lowest price, is wrong. And we believe LPTA, whether properly announced or not, is no way to seek best value, to say nothing of the way in which LPTA inhibits innovation and competition for excellence.
If the government specifies in detail what it wants (the old detailed specification approach), LPTA, and for that matter FAR Part 14 sealed bidding, are appropriate. But if the government issues a performance specification and wants innovative solutions, best value tradeoffs should be used. Once that decision is made, it is improper to change the rules in the middle of the game without amending the solicitation and starting over. You'd think by now everyone would have this message. We'd like to see LPTA go. Best value is tradeoffs. LPTA is FAR Part 14.