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FCW : August 15, 2015
NETCENTS-2 IS KEY TO AIR FORCE’S IT MISSION T HE AIR FORCE’S Network Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) is a follow to the successful NETCENTS-1, on which ordering stopped at the end of fiscal 2013. But that description does it little justice. With a total contract ceiling of more than $24 billion, the seven-year contract is more than twice the size of its older sibling, and carries more than 12 times the number of vendors. It’s key to the success of the Air Force’s IT mission, said program manager Robert Smothers, and has been built specifically to provide IT services and products that meet Air Force requirements and technical standards. Other government contracts are not tailored to Air Force mission needs, he said, and do not require products to be compliant with Air Force standards. Additionally, no fee is charged for use of the contract. “Economically, the Air Force benefits by avoiding the cost spent on fees,” Smothers said. All other government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs), such as NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise- Wide Procurement (SEWP) and the GSA’s Alliant, do charge a fee. As Air Force IT users could theoretically go to these other GWACs for their needs, the Air Force’s no-fee approach for NETCENTS-2 could also provide a competitive edge for the program. NETCENTS-2 benefits from lessons learned with the earlier contract. NETCENTS-1 had a complicated relationship between the contract’s primes and their subcontractors, according to market researcher Deltek, and NETCENTS-2 enables a more direct working relationship for the Air Force with its vendors and providers. It now separates products from services and applications from infrastructure through various requirement-specific contract vehicles, Deltek said, which creates a bidders’ pool of specialized services versus product providers. That arrangement should also help to reduce overhead costs. NETCENTS-2 also reworks the opportunities for small businesses to get Air Force work. NETCENTS-1 had what was considered then to be an aggressive strategy of provid- ing a minimum of 20 percent of the contract dollars to small businesses, with another 20 percent of the money going to large contracts targeted for small-business subcontractors. But most of the small business potential on NETCENTS-1 was as subcontractors, which was seen as a real impediment to actually getting business. NETCENTS-2, by contrast, has separate vehicles just for small businesses, which should create far more opportunities. Boosting small business acquisition that way is “directly in line with the Air Force’s strategic initiative of supporting small business goals,” Deltek analysts said. Deltek gives four key reason why NETCENTS-2 now plays such a central role in the Air Force’s strategic plans: • Standardization of products and services across the agency • Simplified, standardized and expedited acquisition process • Control the costs through leveraging Air Force’s extensive buying power • Visibility of acquisition data, in order to identify trends, cost variances and compliance through use of the AFWay procurement portal AFWay was launched in 2002 as an automated Web- based tool for acquiring commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products in order to provide an easier way for users to manage their IT spend. It’s since become a focus for the Air Force’s desire to get a better handle on such things as small business sales, and how to make better strategic IT procurements. The evolution of the NETCENTS program since the days of the Unified Local Area Networking (ULANA II) contract, which ended in February 2003, mirrors the development of the Defense Department’s overall focus on “net centric” warfighting, in which the harmonization of agency networks and data takes precedent. It also supports the long-term Air Force objective to cut FCW.COM/2015NETCENTSCONTRACTGUIDE S-18 CONTRACT GUIDE SPONSORED REPORT NETCENTS-2
July 30, 2015
August 30, 2015