WT Business Beat

Air Force makes $5.8B in NetCents awards

Twelve companies have won Air Force NetCents 2 contracts for network operation and infrastructure solutions.

The awards were made under a small business competition that pulled in 29 bids.

The winning companies are:

  • The Centech Group Inc., Falls Church, Va., (contract number: FA8732-14-D-0010)
  • Epsilon Systems Solutions Inc., San Diego, (FA8732-14-D-0011)
  • Smartronix Inc., Hollywood, Md., (FA8732-14-D-0012)
  • SMS Data Products Group Inc., McLean, Va., (FA8732-14-D-0013)
  • Indus Corp., Vienna, Va., (FA8732-14-D-0014)
  • Technica Corp., Sterling, Va., (FA8732-14-D-0015)
  • Telos Corp., Ashburn, Va., (FA8732-14-D-0016)
  • Sumaria Systems Inc., Danvers, Mass., (FA8732-14-D-0017)
  • BTAS Inc., Beavercreek, Ohio, (FA8732-14-D-0018)
  • American Systems Corp., Chantilly, Va., (FA8732-14-D-0019)
  • STG, Inc., Reston, Va., (FA8732-14-D-0020)
  • MicroTechnologies LLC, Vienna, Va., (FA8732-14-D-0021)

The companies will compete for task orders to provide a variety of services and solutions around network operations, enterprise services and infrastructure development and operations and network management and defense. Other services include service oriented architecture infrastructure, enterprise level security management and operations and telephony infrastructure and services.

The contract has a three-year base and four 12 month options, for a total of seven years. The contract mandatory for the Air Force and can also be used by the Army, Navy, Defense Department and civilian agencies.

Those are the basics of the contract, but here are some other items to consider.

Protests are likely given the history of the NetCents program, which has been slammed by multiple protests when the Air Force has made awards in other categories. The fact that 12 awards were made out of 29 bids also increases the likelihood of protests.

The small business size standard is interesting here because several of the winners would not generally be considered small businesses, but rather midsize businesses such as American Systems Corp., Telos Corp., STG Inc. and MicroTech. But I should note that with telephony included as one of the primary services under the contract, it pulls in a much larger small business standard that is based on the number of employees and not revenue.

The length of time from solicitation to award is worth noting: The request for proposals came out in September 2010. Proposals were due November 2010. Revised proposals were filed November 2012. I know the Air Force is trying to get it right, but that’s a long march and we probably haven’t gotten to the end of it, depending on what happens with the protests.

More NetCents awards are coming. The Air Force released a schedule in February (thank you Deltek) that says the awards for the applications services portion will come in April and the full and open awards for network operations will come in November.

Watch this space.

Posted on Mar 28, 2014 at 8:23 AM0 comments

Booz Allen loses incumbent IRS contract

Booz Allen Hamilton fought hard to keep a $57 million contract with the Internal Revenue Service, but the Government Accountability Office shot down its arguments at every turn.

According to a recently released GAO decision, Booz Allen filed its protest of the award to Accenture,= claiming that Accenture received too high a rating for its technical approach, and that Booz Allen’s score was too low.

Booz Allen was the incumbent on the contract to provide IT and financial management services to the IRS. The agency was running a best-value competition under The Treasury Department’s Total Information Processing Support Services 4 contract.

Accenture’s technical score should have been lower because the IRS found that Accenture’s labor rates were not realistic because they were too low, Booz Allen argued.

The company contended that the lower labor rates represented a higher risk to the IRS.

But GAO agreed with the IRS that the Accenture proposal showed that it understood the requirements and the labor mix needed to accomplish the work even if its pricing was unrealistic. The low labor rates didn’t show a lack of understanding of the requirements of the contract, GAO said.

“While Accenture might need to pay more to obtain its proposed staff, there was no basis for questioning its proposed technical approach,” GAO wrote. “We find nothing in [Booz Allen’s] protest which provides a basis for questioning this determination.”

GAO also rejected Booz Allen’s argument that the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency findings that Accenture lacked certain audit controls represented a risk. Accenture had already been found a responsible party when it won the TIPSS-4 contract originally, GAO said.

Because of the concerns with the low labor rates, the IRS evaluation team increased Accenture’s bid by $8 million to $56.6 million, but that was still lower than Booz Allen’s $58.2 million bid.

Accenture also had higher technical scores. Here, Booz Allen argued that its technical proposal should have been rated excellent rather than good, but GAO and the IRS disagreed with Booz Allen’s interpretation of what made for an excellent rating according to the criteria described in the solicitation.

To get an excellent rating, a bidder had to show that it was offering a low-risk technical approach that also demonstrated an excellent understanding of the requirements “in that the approach significantly exceeded performance or capability standards,” according to GAO.

Booz Allen’s proposal received an exceptional strength because the company is the incumbent and wouldn’t need an extensive ramp up period. But “evaluators didn’t find that BAH’s approach significantly exceeded the solicitation performance or capability standards,” GAO said.

The IRS also found that Booz Allen failed to demonstrate an exceptional understanding of the requirement.

That’s a pretty harsh criticism of an incumbent’s proposal and should be a warning not to be complacent when submitting a recompete, advice I heard recently from a panel of proposal managers.

Booz Allen also argued that the evaluation of Accenture’s technical proposal and Booz Allen’s proposal were unequal.

But GAO agreed with the IRS that there were qualitative differences in the proposals. Details of the differences are deleted in the GAO report on its decision.

This is the second protest Booz Allen has lost this month. Earlier in March, the company failed to persuade GAO that a FDA contract that Lockheed Martin won was improper. SRA International also protested that contract, but Lockheed prevailed.

Posted on Mar 28, 2014 at 1:04 PM0 comments

More signs of Deltek expansion

When I interviewed Deltek’s CEO Mike Corkery a few months back, he talked about his strategy on expanding what it can offer customers in the company's various markets.

One of the markets he mentioned was marketing and communications because, often, the work companies in that field do is project based, so they need, according to Corkery’s reasoning, enterprise resource software that is built around the needs of project management.

Corkery and Deltek pushed that strategy forward this week with the acquisition of Sohnar, an enterprise software provider best known for its Traffic LIVE solution. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Sohnar is a London-based company, but it has offices in New York and Sydney, Australia.

Traffic LIVE is a traffic management solution used by marketing agencies to manage projects and the flow of creative jobs within those firms, Deltek said in its release.

It’s also a tool for managing people – generally the most expensive assets these companies have – in a cost effective and profitable manner.

Deltek describes Traffic LIVE as a professional services automation solution. It’s also a cloud-based offering. I found this interesting because it’s another sign of how important technology has become to delivering service what you might not typically thing of as needing technology.

Traffic LIVE will be integrated into Deltek’s Maconomy ERP solutions, the company said.

While the acquisition of Sohnar doesn’t have a direct government market impact, I think it’s worth pointing out because of Deltek’s close ties to the contracting industry.

It’s also good to follow a company as it pursues its strategy and puts concrete actions behinds its words.

Of course, Deltek is no stranger to making acquisitions. It’s been very active in recent years, practically cornering the market for research around government contracts with deals for Input, FedSources and Centurion Research. Another related deal was the purchase of MySBX, a kind of social network for connecting companies.

It’s also acquired Maconomy, which bolstered its access to engineering and architecture firms.

So, I’d expect Deltek to continue to expand. There is no reason to think it won’t.

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 at 10:47 AM0 comments

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