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G Smith

Receiving two bids on LPTA with same price

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The FAR gives guidance on equal low bids in a couple of places.  Although the guidance is in a section normally not used very much, the principle may apply to many procurements.  See FAR 14.408-6 and B-402519, Vetcorp, Inc., May 14, 2010.  Does this help?

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I pose the following what ifs.....

What if as noted the selection process is more than simply on price?  After all LPTA is stated.

AND

What if the selection process of LPTA was used to determine the award of a task or delivery order?   After all the question is posted in GWACs, MACs area.

If the what ifs are present I would  suggest that the first place to look is at the fair opportunity ordering process of the parent contract and absent any discussion there I would offer that the CO could use any process to their liking to make the final determination.  

How about that even in a selection of LPTA  a narrative regarding the technical capability of each firm in meeting the evaluation factors would surely determine at least one difference that could be used as the support to direct award to that firm.  Nothing is absolutely equal and one firm had to have exceeded a factor where another only met it.

And what about exchanges with the offerors, has that been done?  

After said considerations then using the aforementioned FAR citation is reasonable.

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59 minutes ago, C Culham said:

How about that even in a selection of LPTA  a narrative regarding the technical capability of each firm in meeting the evaluation factors would surely determine at least one difference that could be used as the support to direct award to that firm.  Nothing is absolutely equal and one firm had to have exceeded a factor where another only met it.

I would think that you would have to specifically call out in the solicitation that in the case of a tie, technical superiority would reign... 

I would lean more to the idea of having exchanges with offerors.  Odds are that they won't both lower the price to the exact same amount and at least one of them would lower it a tad, which is all that would be needed.

I did have this happen to me once doing a GSA delivery order.  We pulled a name out of a hat (documented, with witnesses).

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This came up in my agency.  LPTA, two offers for exactly the same amount.  CO flipped a coin, with witnesses.

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You can’t turn an LPTA competition into a trade-off, unless you provided for that possibility in the task order competition.  You will be changing the ground rules after the fact. Don’t do it. 

A flip of the coin is fairer and provides an equal chance to the finalists - based upon price.  Since you don’t care about a better qualified firm or better proposal, take five minutes to gather witnesses and a coin, then flip it. Bingo - you’re done (assuming that you’re satisfied with the price).

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Just pick one.  The reason one is picked over another doesn’t need to be rationalized beyond what was announced in the solicitation (LPTA).

 

To that end, as Joel implied, turning an LPTA into a trade-off (like intentionally selecting based on business size) is improper unless you provided for that in the solicitation.

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G Smith never responded with more information so we don’t know.

LPTA is overused.  I have a hard time visionalizing why it is used under an IDIQ arrangement, especially for services.  Considering past performance as a minimum should be factored in.

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8 hours ago, coolarmydude said:

I would select the offer that was received before the other. That way, the decision is still purely based on the Offerors' efforts.

The discriminator- by definition - is price. All technically acceptable proposals are equal. And all technically acceptable proposals of the same price should have an equal chance for award. 

Then flip a coin or draw the winner from a bowl or whatever. 

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15 hours ago, formerfed said:

LPTA is overused.  I have a hard time visionalizing why it is used under an IDIQ arrangement, especially for services.  Considering past performance as a minimum should be factored in.

I actually think the opposite.  I think it is underused.  There's no reason why past performance cannot be part of an LPTA competition.  Part of the TA could be that the contractor must have acceptable past performance based on XX. It would be a pass/fail criteria as with the technical factors. 

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I see lots of LPTA used.  It’s an easy out for contract people to use - puts burden on program offices to define needs in absolute terms, puts pressure on companies to submit most favorable prices initially, and takes shorter times for award.  There’s no need for lengthy technical evaluations, there’s minimal analysis and decision making for contract specialists, no need for detailed cost/price analysis, and best of all, no negotiations involved.  It’s a paper pushing exercise.

As far as past performance, use of pass/fail generally means all offers pass.  In my opinion, effective use of past performance requires diligent research including talking with end users and customers.  Everyone now seems to use Whatever comes out of the database.  There’s no personal contact to see how well companies performed against similar efforts.  When using that type of information, it should be applied and evaluated on a scale basis.

i feel too many contracts get awarded using the easist way out.  

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It’s one step above sealed bidding, the advantage being that we avoided awarding to the scumbags that we were plagued with early on in my federal career.  For the most part, they didn’t even bother competing. 

We were also able to weed out “fronts” in our SDB type set-asides. 

And true enough,  it only required a couple of us to read and evaluate the proposals. We asked for subject matter experts where necessary for key trades or systems compliance verification.

We also used it on tightly budgeted projects, where the customer couldn’t afford the bells and whistles or to pay more to get the gold star primes. 

The Air Force has a solid track record of putting Cadillac desires in solicitations with Yugo budgets, then wanting to use trade off methods to select the winner.  It was very misleading to industry, who thought that there would be adequate funding for the expressed wants.  Several of the best primes stopped participating in our Air Force design-build and construction best value trade-off competitions for several years 

 

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3 hours ago, Desparado said:

There's no reason why past performance cannot be part of an LPTA competition.  Part of the TA could be that the contractor must have acceptable past performance based on XX. It would be a pass/fail criteria as with the technical factors.

If you do this under LPTA and if you determine a small business has unacceptable past performance, you must go to the SBA for a CoC. See FitNet Purchasing Alliance; B-410263; Nov 26, 2014.

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1 hour ago, napolik said:

If you do this under LPTA and if you determine a small business has unacceptable past performance, you must go to the SBA for a CoC. See FitNet Purchasing Alliance; B-410263; Nov 26, 2014.

That specific acquisition was a sloppily performed trade-off attempt.  However in a note in the decision, the GAO explained the point that Napolik is making. 

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5 hours ago, Desparado said:

I actually think the opposite.  I think it is underused.  There's no reason why past performance cannot be part of an LPTA competition.  Part of the TA could be that the contractor must have acceptable past performance based on XX. It would be a pass/fail criteria as with the technical factors. 

Assuming that whoever you award to will meet the responsibility standard at FAR 9.104-1(c), what's the point of making past performance "part of the TA"?

Quote

 

To be determined responsible, a prospective contractor must-[...]

(c) Have a satisfactory performance record (see 9.104-3(b) and subpart 42.15).

 

 

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20 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

The discriminator- by definition - is price. All technically acceptable proposals are equal. And all technically acceptable proposals of the same price should have an equal chance for award. 

Then flip a coin or draw the winner from a bowl or whatever. 

So is chance technical related or price related? <rhetorical question based on your response>
I'm not saying that it's not appropriate; I'm saying it's not the sole tiebreaker method either.

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1 hour ago, coolarmydude said:

I'm not saying that it's not appropriate; I'm saying it's not the sole tiebreaker method either.

Which are the other tiebreaker methods?

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3 hours ago, coolarmydude said:

So is chance technical related or price related? <rhetorical question based on your response>
I'm not saying that it's not appropriate; I'm saying it's not the sole tiebreaker method either.

Any non-price consideration that gives one proposer an advantage over another - a better chance for award- unless stated in the solicitation - in an LPTA  - is unfair. The stated non-price criteria is “technically acceptable proposal by a responsible Offeror/proposer”.

In my opinion, the tiebreaker among technically acceptable (thus EQUAL) offers from responsible proposers with equal prices should be by chance -  some type of drawing. 

The above assumes that prices are fair and reasonable and within the budget. 

An exception could be made by conducting discussions,  advising the equal lowest priced proposers that there is a tie in the price competition and allowing them to revise their price proposal. This would be most appropriate where the proposals appear to be high, and/or above the budget.

Then, if there is still a tie,  select the winner by chance. 

Edit: I could be convinced to do the price revision opportunity among tied lowest prices before resorting to chance,  if that is considered fair. Just watched Final Jeopardy on TV.  Assuming that the government reserved the right to conduct discussions. 

Further edit: could that be considered some form of the dreaded and disfavored reverse auction if the tied prices are fair,  reasonable and affordable? 

An equal chance among equal, otherwise acceptable proposals is the most fair tiebreaker. 

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1 hour ago, napolik said:

Which are the other tiebreaker methods?

Trivia contest, arm wrestling, staring contest, to name a few.

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5 minutes ago, Don Mansfield said:

Trivia contest, arm wrestling, staring contest, to name a few.

Nope- unstated evaluation criteria that could  provide one firm an advantage over another firm. 

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4 minutes ago, coolarmydude said:

The one that I posted.

My aging eyes cannot seem to locate it. Could you post it again?

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