NetCents redo focuses on Trade Agreements Act

The Air Force is preparing to ask bidders to submit revised proposals that will document their compliance with the Trade Agreements Act. Will this save the troubled procurement?

The second round of the NetCents 2 Products contract debacle is officially over, and round three is about to begin.

The Air Force has sent me a statement that it will ask bidders on the troubled contract to submit revised proposals next month. Those proposals will be reviewed for compliance for the Trade Agreements Act, and awards will be made based on the lowest priced, technically acceptable vendors.

Before the end of May, the Air Force will issue an amendment to the NetCents 2 procurement asking for the revised proposals. The revisions will be due sometime in June, with awards expected in mid-to-late summer.

“There are a lot of complex issues and that’s the reason they wanted to go back and be very careful so they could have a successful procurement,” an Air Force spokesman told me.

Daryl Mayer, chief of current operations at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said he couldn’t go into more detail on why the Air Force felt it needed to go back and ask for more information on the Trade Agreements Act. The act restricts the countries from which components in IT equipment bound for government customers can be sourced.

Mayer did say that the bidders will be asked to document their compliance with the act.

When I asked him about other issues that companies have complained about, such as unbalanced pricing and verification of information in the proposals, Mayer referred me to the statement, which I’ve included here:

“The Air Force will issue an amendment to the NETCENTS-2 Products solicitation before the end of May 2013. Final proposal revisions from the offerors will be due in June 2013.  Upon receipt of the offerors' responses, the Air Force will carefully review them, ensuring among other things that all products comply with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA), and award contracts to the lowest priced, technically acceptable vendors, as required by the solicitation.  Awards are anticipated to be made in mid to late summer.

“The NETCENTS-2 Products contracts previously awarded on April 19th are currently under a stop-work order.  Disposition of these contracts will be dependent on the source selection decision.”

He couldn’t comment on why this aspect of the contract wasn’t covered sufficiently in the first two rounds of bids on the $6.9 billion contract.

The Air Force made awards last year, but pulled them back after a flood of protests. New Awards were made in April to eight companies, but 14 more filed protests.

Some have speculated that the only way the Air Force can work its way out of this mess is to cancel the contract or make awards to all the bidders.

Given its track record, anything short of a cancellation or awards to all bidders will be met with another fresh batch of protests.

Getting ready for round three, everybody.