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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Protest decisions loom for NetCents losers

The big question bouncing around the market is whether or not the Air Force got it right this time in awarding its $6.9 billion NetCents 2 Products contract.

This is the second time the Air Force has made awards for the mandatory contract. Last year, the contract went to nine companies, but the Air Force pulled back after 11 other companies filed protests.

For round 2, awards went to eight companies:

  • Ace Technology Partners LLC., Arlington Heights, Ill.
  • CDW Government LLC., Vernon Hills Ill.
  • CounterTrade Products Inc., Arvada Colo.
  • FedStore Corp., Rockville Md.
  • General Dynamics IT, Needham Mass.
  • Intelligent Decisions Inc., Ashburn Va.
  • Iron Bow Technologies LLC., Chantilly Va.
  • World Wide Technology Inc., Maryland Heights Mo.

Given the Air Force’s history with NetCents, as well as the general trend of more protests, we can probably count on some of the losing companies formally objecting to the award decisions, mostly because there is little downside to protesting a decision, even if it is perfectly made.

Personally, I’m surprised that the Air Force didn’t make awards to all the bidders and declare victory.

But we’ve gotten some good comments on today’s blog. One was from R. Walker, who says he is with one of the companies that won last year, but lost this year.

Obviously, they are not happy, but after “soul searching over the past two days, I cannot see anyway that a protest would be sustained,” R. Walker wrote.

The Air Force was very fair to all bidders, and companies had opportunities to revise bids, the commenter wrote. Pricing was likely their downfall.

This person expects to be told by the Air Force to get over their disappointment, and that they’ll have a chance in three years when there is an on-ramp opportunity to join the contract.

Wow, three years – that’s a long time to be shut out in this market.

I sent the comment – which is posted on my earlier blog – to another losing bidder, who said the comments were “interesting” and “clearly one person’s opinion that I strongly disagree with.”

His company hasn’t decided if they are going to protest, but he expects protests to be filed.

In a later comment, R. Walker wrote that his or her company felt that, as an original winner, they would have been somewhat protected.

Obviously that didn’t happen, as five of the nine original winners lost in round 2.

Can that be grounds for a protest? Probably not.

As debriefs happen, we’ll be tracking the Government Accountability Office website to see if protests are filed, and if so, by whom.

But my gut is telling me that the Air Force is going to stand by this decision. We won’t see a repeat of them backing off in the face of protests.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 22, 2013 at 9:51 AM

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