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FCW : September 15, 2014
S6 creating separate areas of expertise under the umbrella of NetCents-2. Each of the seven categories has different teams of contracting officials, engineers and subject- matter experts to help NetCents-2 customers navigate through the acquisition process. The seven categories under NetCents-2 are: • Enterprise Information and Service Management. • NetCentric Products. • Application Services (small business). • Application Services (full and open). • NetOps and Infrastructure (full and open). • NetOps and Infrastructure (small business). • IT Professional Support and Engineering Services. That kind of differentiated focus has become a necessity for contracts like these that have such complicated requirements, Smothers said. He’s been doing acquisitions for some 37 years, he said, and in that time it’s become a far more complex process, with more instructions, regulations and requirements. Providing the level of user assistance that NetCents-2 does has become a vital part of the success of complicated contracts. “Having various teams, with one assigned to applications services and another to network operations, they become very skilled in those particular areas,” Smothers said. “And they can help the customer with the templates and guides that are particular to them, and we can execute much more quickly.” Breaking the contracts down this way, into what are essentially different segments of the IT market, should also help create closer relationships and partnerships between the various program personnel and contractors. “People on both sides will know much better who is into providing certain things in various areas,” said Ashley Bergander, federal defense manager at Deltek, a government market research company. “If the government person is only handling that area, then contractors will know who to go to and they’ll be able to build a much closer relationship with that person, and that will lead to better interactions between them.” Momentum from NetCents-1 has led to pent-up demand for NetCents-2. Over the length of the first contract, 17,550 task orders were awarded for a total of $10.02 billion, just less than the final extended ceiling. Meeting small-business commitments NetCents-2 CONTRACT GUIDE SPONSORED CONTENT Getting more government procurement dollars to small businesses is a focus overall in government, and it was a key aspect of the first Network-Centric Solutions contract. NetCents-1 had a goal of targeting a minimum of 20 percent of the total contract dollars for small-business set-asides, with additional income for subcontractors to large prime contractors. NetCents-2 expects to funnel even more to small businesses. The Products vehicle, for example, has a separate category for small businesses that requires 23 percent of that vehicle’s total obligated dollars to be directed their way. Both Applications Services and NetOps and Infrastructure have separate small-business indefinite- delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts, with the requirement that orders of $3,000 to $150,000 be competed in the Small Business pool. Higher orders are available to small businesses at the discretion of the ordering office. If all the goals are met, small businesses could net anywhere from $7.5 billion to just less than half of the $24.2 billion NetCents-2 total. NetCents-2 will be an important bellwether for the Air Force in meeting its small- business commitments. Despite its earlier goals for NetCents-1 and other contracts, small- business participation in Air Force procurements has been on a steady slide. By early 2012, it had slipped to just 13.4 percent of total obligated dollars, compared to more than 16 percent in 2009. In February 2012, the Air Force published its Small Business Improvement Plan, requiring that both the assistant secretary for acquisition and the Air Force Small Business Office collaborate to develop “better buying power” business strategies to provide better value for Air Force customers and the maximum opportunity for small-business participation. Small businesses themselves will probably need to be convinced that the Air Force is serious, given the previous mismatches between commitments and the actual dollars they’ve earned. But Robert Smothers, NetCents-2 program manager, believes it’s a new era. The small number of overall vendors on NetCents-1 just didn’t provide the small-business opportunity the Air Force wanted, he said — something that will be different in the new version.
September 30, 2014
August 30, 2014