New bill looks for clarity on cost-based procurement at DOD

A new bill introduced by Sen. Mark Warner (above) and Sen. Mike Rounds would restrict DOD's use of lowest price technically acceptable in IT contracting.

Proposed legislation would discourage Defense Department officials from using lowest price technically acceptable evaluation criteria in IT acquisition.

The sponsors on the Senate side, Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), said they believe LPTA is overused, especially when it comes to IT. In a statement announcing the bill, Warner said relying on LPTA "provides no incentive for DOD to seek out the most innovative IT and engineering solutions, especially important as we are working to encourage more innovation in cybersecurity."

The Promoting Value-Based Defense Procurement Act would update the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to restrict the use of LPTA to procurements in which subjective comparison between bids is not especially relevant or DOD would obtain no benefit from a more expensive solution.

The proposed legislation is similar to a House bill sponsored by Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.).

"Technology is evolving at a faster rate than ever before," Wittman said in a statement, "and yet our DOD procurement system often lags behind. Twenty-first-century tech solutions shouldn't be out of reach for our military. Low cost can and often should be the primary consideration in commodity procurement, [but] it absolutely should not dictate DOD decision-making when it comes to finding superior, information technical systems."

This week, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told lawmakers he is concerned that countries such as China and Russia are expanding their technological capabilities at a much faster rate than the United States. Silicon Valley executives who are working with DOD also voiced their frustration during a trip to Washington this week.

"We have a serious, serious problem with the contracting officers, with the purchasing," said John De Santis, chairman and CEO of HyTrust, during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Council on April 19. He called for a better approach to contracting and acquisition, adding that "80 percent of the effort is just trying to figure out how we are going to get this paid for, and that is driving us nuts."

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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