Software Companies Push Senate to Weaken Lowest Price Contracting Rule

Cienpies Design/

Making agencies prioritize the lowest price is leading to poor contracting choices, a software trade group says.

Lawmakers are once again looking at ways to peel back the use of lowest price technically acceptable, or LPTA, contracting decisions to enable federal agencies to spend a little more for better products and services.

As part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, LPTA requires agencies to choose the lowest priced option that meets the requirements set forth in a given solicitation. Abiding by the letter of the law has led to poor contracting decisions for the sake of saving some money.

“LPTA contracting is a useful source selection method for acquisitions with simple, well-defined requirements when cost is the sole objective differentiating factor,” BSA | The Software Alliance Vice President Craig Albright wrote in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “However, when it comes to more complex acquisitions involving multiple technical variable or functions … LPTA’s priority of price over value leads to acquisition outcomes that actually prevent the government from getting the most for its money.”

BSA, a group of 26 technology companies that sell to government, pointed to acquisitions supporting cybersecurity and data protection as prime examples.

The requirements for LPTA at the Defense Department have been slowly tamped down over the years. But a House amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act would extend that effort to the civilian government.

Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., introduced an amendment to the House bill that would prevent agency buyers from applying LPTA “in circumstances that would deny the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs in the source selection process.” The amendment was agreed to in a voice vote by the House Armed Services Committee.

Albright’s letter urged the Senate Committee to adopt the House language in the final bill.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Thursday he expects the House to vote on the 2019 NDAA next week.