Air Force battles through $13B SBEAS protest saga

Like its predecessor NetCents contracts, the Air Force's $13 billion SBEAS contract continues to battle through a huge volume of protests.

The Air Force’s NetCents series of contracts has a long history of trouble. There have been nearly uncountable protests which have brought corrective actions, dismissed protests, and a few protests that were denied.

Warranted or not, we'll be polite and say the Air Force took a reputation hit because of the NetCents troubles.

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But NetCents II finally got off the ground. When it came time to recompete the work, the Air Force dropped the NetCents name: at least for its small business contract for application services.

But even with a new name -- Small Business Enterprise Applications Solutions -- still continues the NetCents tradition of a protest-plagued procurement. And the $13 billion contract hasn’t even been awarded yet.

A first round of nearly 21 protests emerged in 2018. Some were withdrawn. Several others were denied by the Government Accountability Office, and others were dismissed as the Air Force took corrective action.

Then more protests came up in the spring of this year. In total, there have been 37 protests from 27 companies.

All the protests involve companies complaining that they were eliminated from the competitive range.

GAO denied 12 of the protests. But seven have been dismissed, which means the Air Force likely saw something in the protests that made them believe they had made a mistake. The Air Force let those companies back into the competition.

Four companies have withdrawn their protests. Four are still pending.

GAO this week released its decisions from April and May to deny protests by Up and Running 6K LLC and OSC-NDF LLC.

They filed their protests at different times so they were not bundled together into a single decision. But GAO ruled that the Air Force’s evaluation was reasonable in both cases.

GAO also denied a protest by NikSoft Systems on July 12, but that decision has not been released yet. Nor has the April 1 ruling against Mission Services Inc.’s protest been made public.

Still to come are GAO decisions involving protests by Interimage (Aug. 12), Incentive Technology Group (Aug. 14), Crestat JV (Sept. 16) and Flairsoft Ltd (Oct. 21).

The Air Force will likely make awards after the protests are resolved, assuming their successful run of defending their decisions holds.

Another round of protests could come after award.

But given the number of pre-award protests, the Air Force may be on track to eliminate everyone ahead of award and give contracts to whoever is left standing.

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