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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Has Congress thrown a lifeline to NetCents 2?

The Air Force NetCents 2 contract has had its troubles, with delays and bid protests. Only two portions of the seven parts of the huge contract vehicle have been awarded and open for orders.

The product portion of the contract was awarded, and then pulled back after a slew of protests. Bids were re-evaluated, and awards may now be close to being awarded. Then again, maybe not.

The vast majority of the contract has not been awarded, and the Air Force has extended the ceiling on the current NetCents, so that work continues, uninterrupted. The Air Force plans to use NetCents as its primary contract for buying a broad range of IT products and services. The whole program has a $24.2 billion ceiling.

The latest news is a 25-line segment of the National Defense Authorization Act that gives the Defense Department six months to submit a plan for increasing the number of contractors eligible to be awarded contracts under NetCents 2. It is section 866. [A special thanks to Matthew Weigelt, a staffer at FCW.com, for pointing the section out to me.]

The plan to Congress should include a rationale for making the maximum number of awards to foster competition and reduce costs. There also should be a methodology for reviewing existing NetCents 2 contractors. There should be, as well, a timeline for increasing the number of eligible contractors and dates for future on-ramps to add contractors.

Am I wrong in thinking that Congress is telling DOD and the Air Force to get on with the contract, and to make awards to as many bidders as possible, perhaps even all of them?

There is nothing quite that explicit in the act, but that's what it sure sounds like to me.

With the provisions for reviewing existing contractors, the defense authorization act also seems to give the Air Force the cover it needs to kick contractors off later, say, a year or two down the road, if they haven’t won any business.

I think, in other words, Congress is telling them to get on with it.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I couldn’t find other specific contracts mentioned in the 1,600-page document, so NetCents 2 is getting called out for some special attention.

Perhaps now the contract will finally get untracked. I know lots of companies have spent lots of money on it, so this might be the break the Air Force needs, and the news the bidders have been waiting for.

All just in time for Christmas.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Dec 20, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Reader Comments

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 Joe WPAFB

I am a Government contracts manager. Talking to industry, I am hearing that less awards are better because the margins are currently so low that even a large ID/IQ contract award is not profitable if there is too much competition for task orders. Everyone can't have it both ways. The Government can award an infinite number of contracts (Seaport-e) then almost all contractors are unhappy. If the Government awards a fewer number of contracts then there is still great unhappiness but for a smaller number ... there is happiness ... and work!

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 Program Manager

If you're not aware, Nick, that was inserted at the request of one of the Oklahoma senators, presumably driven by some constituent. It should be opposed mightily by the industry and AFCEA, not only as an unwarranted intrusion on DoD's capacity to make actual decisions (yes, I know that's a laugh line but I'm serious), but also because it is, well, stupid (q.v. SeaPort-e if you doubt the idea's stupidity). Eight or nine awards per lot is a more-than-adequate total if the AF can ever get its act together. Who is SAF/AQ again?

Fri, Dec 21, 2012

Let's hope it doesn't turn into another Seaport-e where you end up with thousands of vendors competing for a limited number or requirements...

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