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By Nick Wakeman

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GSA poised for a comeback

I was talking with a friend in the industry the other day and the General Services Administration came up.

Sure, the agency has problems ? Alliant is hanging over its head ? but don't listen to people who say the agency is dead or irrelevant, according to my friend.

Service is improving. Fees are very competitive. And they are out talking to people about better services.

The bad days are behind them, my friend said.

Bigger question marks lie elsewhere, for example, the Air Force's Netcents II contract. With the acquisition troubles at the Air Force, the service has been unable to move the contract forward. According to my friend, the longer it takes the Air Force to get that contract going, the less likely it is that Netcents II will ever fly.

The question that is being raised, or should be raised, is whether there is a need for Netcents II. If the Air Force's acquisition processes are in such bad shape, shouldn't the service turned to other vehicles that have a better track record and have the capability to deliver what the Air Force wants under Netcents II?

With its variety of vehicles and an under 1 percent contract fee, GSA is an attractive alternative.

Another challenge may be brewing at the National Institutes of Health where they are looking at combining ImageWorld and the Chief Information Officers Solutions and Partners contracts into a single vehicle.

NIH, though, can make a stronger defense to keep its own governmentwide contract vehicle, according to my friend. A high percentage of the task orders under those contracts came from within its parent organization, the Health and Human Services Department.

Another argument could be that the growing demand for electronic health records and other health care-related information technology justifies NIH manage an IT contract.

There you have it. One vehicle, Netcents II, may never take off, and GSA will be ready to step into the void. While NIH has the opportunity to justify its own GWAC because it can make a case for a unique demand.

My friend raised some interesting points. What do you think?

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 12, 2008 at 9:54 AM

Reader Comments

Wed, Nov 19, 2008 Carleton Jones MD

Nick's friend is wrong on NETCENTS-2:#1 The clear success of the current NETCENTS contracts in fulfilling the requirements of Air Force users worldwide demonstrates the need for a broad AF-focused/-managed vehicle, and for a timely follow-on in the form of NETCENTS-2 contracts in place by the end of 2009.#2 NETCENTS contracts give AF users the ability to acquire solutions rapidly at very competitive prices, and through a financially self-supporting acquisition machine that allows for the development of critically needed AF acquisiton professionals. All this strengthens the AF.#3 NETCENTS-2 will continue these features through a family of contracts (rather than one) uniquely aligned to evolving AF functional needs and reflecting AF-unique small business and other priorities.>> In short, the AF is fully capable of fulfilling its own requirements; there is no reason for the AF to turn over its acquisition of IT resources to another federal component.#4 The AF "acquisition troubles," whatever they may be, certainly do not extend to the programs, like NETCENTS, run by the 754th Electronic Systems Group or its parent Electronic Systems Center. None of these "troubles" has affected the timing of NETCENTS-2.#5 It appears that the AF is close to completing a few remaining issues and will shortly be ready to move forward with NETCENTS-2. The AF should be commended for its deliberative approach to getting new contracts properly in place. Most of AF's attention has been on the laudable objectives of better aligning the contract categories and scope to actual AF needs -- the critical "statement of requirements" stage of an acquisition -- while facilitating small-business participation in NETCENTS-2. Good for the AF!

Fri, Nov 14, 2008 Nick Wakeman VA

This comment comes from Richard White of Fedmarket.com:I agree completely with your point about GSA coming back. It's hard to put my finger on it but you can sense a comeback and a general resistance to GWACs starting to emerge. GSA just needs to fix the price reduction clause.

Thu, Nov 13, 2008 Philip Kiviat POTOMAC MD

I think your friend's arguments are very realistic, both the pro for GSA and CIO-SP3 and the con for Netcents II. GSA is indeed arising from the ashes, CIO-SP has been a rousing success and has an NIH constituency, and Netcents II has been a puzzle for quite some time, even to senior AF SESs.

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