WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

GSA's NetCents 2 take over and the end of agency MACs

The General Services Administration awarding of the $5.5 billion replacement for the Air Force’s NetCents 2 Products contract for IT hardware is another move by GSA to bring other agencies contracts under its wing.

For almost as long as I can remember, GSA has wanted this. The first effort I paid attention to was during the George W. Bush administration when then-GSA Administrator Lurita Doan made an awkward attempt to have GSA take over some of the large GWAC contracts that other agencies had launched.

She was unsuccessful and she eventually resigned in the midst of controversies unrelated to GWACs. But the die was cast in many ways. No one argued that it was a bad concept, just poor execution. Some 15 years later, the only agencies besides GSA with government-wide vehicles are the National Institutes of Health and NASA.

And over the last five years we’ve increasingly seen agencies let go of their own, agency-specific contracts and turned to GSA vehicles such as Alliant, OASIS and the Schedules.

OASIS in particular has been a vehicle of choice for several government agencies who have signed memorandums of understanding with GSA to use OASIS exclusively for professional services work.

The Air Force’s choice to forego another NetCents Products contract and turn that procurement over to GSA is just the latest example. The new contract is a blanket purchase agreement called 2GIT, for Second Generation IT.

In many cases, agencies just don’t have the in-house talent to make a procurement vehicle and there isn’t the incentive or resources available to rebuild their contracting shops.

For the Air Force specifically, this could spare them the embarrassment of trying to award a third iteration of NetCents Products. The entire NetCents family of contracts have been mired in bid protests. Each of the different contracts have all been the subject of protests whether they be NETOPS or Infrastructure, Application Services and Products.

Scores of protests that have led to corrective actions, amended solicitations and then new bids being submitted. This happened multiple times. It seemed the Air Force would correct one issue, only to have two others pop up.

The Air Force has kept the Applications Services portion of NetCents in house, but this time has renamed the contract SBEAS for Small Business Enterprise Applications Solutions IDIQ. The Air Force still hasn’t said how they’ll move forward with the next iteration of NetCents NETOPS and Infrastructure.

An award is expected in February for SBEAS. But in keeping with the family tradition, there have been a plethora of pre-award protests with four still pending.

I guess the Air Force has only partially learned the lesson of leaving the contract headaches to GSA.

I don’t want to give the impression that with GSA handling the procurement that there will be no problems for the GSA 2GIT contract. There have been several pre-award protests but all have been resolved in GSA’s favor.

It just seems that agencies are better off shuffling as much of the headache onto GSA.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 06, 2019 at 9:55 AM

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