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FCW : September 15, 2014
S4 The second generation of the NetCents program is expected to pave the way to true interoperability The Network-Centric Solutions (NetCents) contracts are key to how the Air Force acquires information technology systems and services in support of its continuing focus on building a “net- centric” fighting force. Resources also for other Defense Department organizations and federal agencies, the contracts have evolved over the years from a relatively simple vehicle into something far more sophisticated and complex. NetCents-1 began life 10 years ago basically as a replacement for a contract that provided commercial networking products and solutions. Over the years, however, NetCents-1grew in importance and reach with a final ordering ceiling of $10.45 billion, a nine- fold increase over its initial ceiling. The ordering period ended in September 2013. That expansion has continued into NetCents-2, which has a total ceiling of more than $24 billion. It’s also become an important part of the Air Force’s strategy to force IT costs down while maintaining that net-centric push. In an article in Air Force Times, Tim Rudolph, the Air Force’s senior leader for integrated information capabilities, said the service plans to cut costs in the long run by building a common networking infrastructure of servers, data centers and online applications through the use of high-volume commercial hardware and software. The idea is to take advantage of the marketplace to reduce component costs, he said, and “not have a unique infrastructure for every application.” Programmatic objectives for NetCents-2 are: • To make use of Air Force buying power to meet strategic sourcing goals. • Meet or exceed operational net-centric requirements. • Ensure technical compliance with Air Force and DOD standards. • Meet or beat required delivery time frames. • Promote small-business support goals. The Air Force is using several techniques to meet those objectives. To create the greatest purchase volume and enforce standards, for example, NetCents-2 is mandated for Air Force IT products and solutions that fall under the scope of the contract. Few waivers from that mandate will be granted, and those that will can come only from the Air Force chief information officer. NetCents-2 customers will also be able to write task orders instead of contracts for pre-qualified vendors using the much simpler Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 16, which should save time for the contracting officer and for the overall acquisition effort. FAR Part 15, under which contracts are written, requires the contracting officers to both do market research and qualify vendors. Ease of use is also furthered by no fees on contract orders and no need for any product catalog approval, a decentralized ordering process that allows any Air Force contract shop to issue a request for proposals. The NetCents-2 program office also provides a series of templates and user guides that list all the standards buyers must comply with, which should also speed acquisitions. That’s all a result of the “tremendous amount of lessons learned” during the length of the NetCents-1 contract, said Robert Smothers, NetCents-2 program manager and chief of the Logistics and Installation Systems Branch at Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex, in a recent interview. “We’ve tried to take advantage of opportunities to lessen costs, increase efficiencies and to utilize as many web-based [Microsoft] SharePoint [sharing and collaboration] opportunities as we can to speed the process,” he said. “Basically there’s been a process over the past 10 years of NetCents-1 from which the entire service has learned how to move much more quickly to get task orders on contract.” NetCents-2 also makes a significant departure from the single contract approach of NetCents-1 by splitting what can be bought into seven separate indefinite- delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) vehicles, in effect NETCENTS-2: ENSURING THE AIR FORCE’S NET-CENTRIC FUTURE NetCents-2 CONTRACT GUIDE SPONSORED CONTENT
September 30, 2014
August 30, 2014