$24B NETCENTS 2 awards expected in 2012

The long-delayed NETCENTS-2 contract vehicle is set to be awarded this year, says the Air Force's acquisition chief.

One of the Air Force’s chief goals in 2012 will be to award the $24 billion Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) contract in the second and third quarters of 2012, David Van Buren, the Air Force service acquisition executive, said Jan. 20.

“This year is the year,” Van Buren said at AFCEA Northern Virginia held in McLean, Va.. “Robust competition is what’s caused the delay. So many people that bid on these programs and expressed interest that it was a huge task to go through the source selection. We fully intend to award these contracts in the second and third quarters of this calendar year.”

NETCENTS-2 is the follow-on to the Air Force’s original Network Centric Solutions program, a broad, five-year, $9 billion procurement program for a range of network-centric supplies and services, including hardware and software for networking and various engineering, software development, system integration, security and telephone services.

The program has been dogged by delays, going back at least as far as September 2009, when NETCENTS was set to expire and was subsequently extended by a year.

But Van Buren said progress is being made. Initial NETCENTS-2 awards for strategic advisory and assistance services in the areas of enterprise integration and service management were made in November 2010, he said.

Close to half of NETCENTS-2’s value -- $11 billion – is available to small business. Contracts that aren’t small business set-asides require a minimum of 23 percent small business subcontracting, Van Buren said. There also are two small business companion contracts, in network operations and application services, he said.

According to Van Buren, the use of small business is a key part of the partnership between government and industry – and also critical to innovation and broader Air Force transformation in 2012.

“We’ve got to work together on this. We’ve got to make that industrial base robust and cost-effective. We’ve got to use metrics and keep getting better and better,” he said. “In real estate, you look at location, location, location. I can tell you that what we’re looking for now is performance, performance, performance.”