Creative Solutions, Not Price, Should Drive Government Awards

Congress and DOD Address the Roles Cybersecurity and Price Play in Evaluating Defense Contracts

On August 1, 2018, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – clearly defining the role Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) will play in evaluating cybersecurity or IT contract proposals. By passing the NDAA, Congress publicly backed concerns put forward by industry trade groups; namely, that placing too much value on a proposal’s price creates an environment in which contractors build their bids around LPTA, sometimes at the expense of presenting the best solution. Although fiscal responsibility remains an important consideration when evaluating bids for federal contracts, relying on LPTA as the deciding factor in the decision making process can prevent the government from getting the most value over the duration of a project. After all, no one really wants to fly in a plane built by the lowest bidder!

At the same time that Congress passed the NDAA, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shannahan discussed the Department of Defense’s increased focus on cybersecurity when evaluating bids for Department of Defense contracts. Deputy Secretary Shanahan was careful to say that the DOD will not consider paying extra for cybersecurity, likening it to the DOD’s existing policy of not paying extra for quality. However, he went on to describe cybersecurity as “…the fourth critical measurement” upon which the DOD will evaluate proposals. When examined alongside the NDAA, these policy changes will fundamentally alter how successful organizations structure their proposals. Contractors may find it challenging to meet the DOD’s new higher cybersecurity requirements if LPTA dictates their ability to proffer their best technical solution.  Recognizing the potential issue, the DOD will consider paying more money for the best cyber solutions – as long as the solutions proposed are the most appropriate for the government’s demands.

In order to be awarded contracts with the DoD that have cyber security components, organizations now can focus on offering the best solution – and structuring their proposals to clearly explain how their solutions present the government the best technical path forward. Contractors are now expected to shift back to telling a story that differentiates their solutions; not just offer the cheapest bottom line. One strategy that we have found to be particularly effective is for our clients to underscore this narrative with the theme that by implementing our client’s technical solution the USG can get the best result technically while at the same time saving them money in the longer term – as a direct result of increased efficiency realized.  The experienced executives at growth[period] work alongside contractors every day to craft successful strategies that set their solutions apart from their competition and lead to wins. Contact our team today to learn more.

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