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FCW : August 15, 2015
business contract holders much of the small business opportunities were at the subcontracting level, admitted market researcher Deltek, which has closely followed the evolution of NETCENTS. But “NETCENTS-2 created significant opportunities for small businesses by creating separate vehicles similar to (the GSA’s) Alliant unrestricted and small business contracts,” analysts there said in emailed comments. “This was directly in line with the Air Force’s strategic initiative supporting small business goals.” All the small business only contracts have the same scope and coverage as those competed as full and open, with small business specialists in the NETCENTS-2 program office reviewing all acquisitions over $10,000 at the task order level. When it first published the Small Business Improvement Plan (SBIP), the Air Force didn’t shrink from how poorly it had done in previous years, even while legal mandates were in place to boost small business opportunities. Although small businesses continue to “serve superbly,” the Air Force said, the service’s small business prime contract award rate had declined sharply prior to the launch of the SBIP. Given declining budgets, it said it needed to re-examine the way it does business in order to increase small business prime and subcontracting opportunities. In NETCENTS-2, that has led to some specific pro-small business activities that can be leveraged. For the Products non-set aside category, for example, decentralized contracting officer outside of the main NETCENTS program office can, at their discretion, invoke a fair opportunity exception and set aside order to small business vendors as long as they meet FAR Part 19 eligibility requirements. In the Application Services and NetOps categories, for anything over the small business only ceiling of $150,000 the ordering office conducts market research to see whether or not there is a reasonable expectation of receiving offers from at least two small business companion contracts. If that’s indicated, then the task order is to be competed in the Small Business Companion contract pool of vendors. Also, all of the vendors on NETCENTS-2, outside of the small businesses themselves, had to include a small business subcontracting plan as one of the requirements for them to be get a NETCENTS-2 award. A formal record of all the reviews of acquisitions over $10,000 has to be included with each task order contract. The Air Force Small Business Office is making a concerted effort to reach out to all of the services’ acquisition force to emphasize this push to include more small business participation. In a May 2015 visit to Hanscom AFB, for example, Mark Teskey, the Air Force’s Small Business director, told program managers, engineers and contracting airmen that boosting small business use is “all about developing our industrial base and creating competition. Simply put, small businesses are key to driving (that) competition.” Not all programs are suited for small businesses, he said, but where agility and innovation and both required, small businesses are generally nimbler than big companies and can react faster when changes are needed. For the Air Force, promoting small business doesn’t necessarily stop at the borders of its own programs such as NETCENTS-2. Though that contract will no longer provide engineering services to go with the products and solutions it does offer, it is passing that off to other government contracts that do emphasize small business use. In December 2013, for example, the Air Force signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GSA to use its OASIS Small Business contract to procure complex professional services. For the Air Force, promoting small business doesn’t necessarily stop at the borders of its own programs such as NETCENTS-2. FCW.COM/2015NETCENTSCONTRACTGUIDE S-26 CONTRACT GUIDE SPONSORED REPORT NETCENTS-2
July 30, 2015
August 30, 2015