Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Contracting: A "False Economy" in Complex Federal Information Technology Procurement
The inappropriate use, or overuse, of Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable (LPTA) procurements as a cost savings measure in federal acquisition offices can lead to failed projects if an exceptional solution is ignored in favor of the lowest offer, hampering the fulfillment of public policy initiatives. This category is particularly detrimental in solicitations for IT systems procurements, due to their complex technical nature. LPTA IT acquisition strategies have the potential to impede the daily work of government end-users across both military and civilian agencies, or curtail the ability to modernize existing capabilities to better serve needs at lower cost. If traditional, trusted evaluation factors like past performance and superior technical expertise are tacitly discouraged by the selection of LPTA, the government risks vulnerabilities in mismatched technical solutions, unanticipated long-term costs, or delayed procurements. In order to mitigate these effects, this study proposes and recommends the drafting of an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance memorandum mandating an update to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) to clarify commodity thresholds, increased training, and the creation of a new role within all agency procurement offices to empirically track source selection category usage and contract lifecycle outcomes.