NETCENTS-2 stalls with new delays

The Air Force’s Network Centric Solutions-2 program remains in a holding pattern

On March 2, after the story below was written, the U.S. Air Force released its request for proposal for the Network-Centric Solutions-2 Enterprise Integration and Service Management requirement, reports FedSources.

A series of delays has kept the Air Force’s Network Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) program in a holding pattern. Two of the four requests for proposals for the program, originally anticipated to be released by the end of January, haven't seen the light of day. And the remaining RFPs might still be months away.

The NETCENTS-2 program is a broad follow-on to the original Air Force Network Centric Solutions program, a five-year, $9 billion omnibus procurement for all things net centric — including hardware and software for voice, video and data networking and services such as engineering, software development, system integration, security and telephone services.

Based on feedback from the Air Force's Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, the Air Force made some additions to NETCENTS-2's performance work statements after the initial draft. According to Air Force officials, the ISR Agency made the requests to ensure that each of the program's elements met ISR requirements.

Like its predecessor, NETCENTS-2 will be open to the rest of the Defense Department and other federal agencies. But the program is more than twice the size of its predecessor. According to a report from FedSources, the maximum value for the entire NETCENTS-2 effort will be approximately $24.2 billion.

The original NETCENTS contract was set to expire Sept. 9, 2009. However, because of the complexity and length of the NETCENTS-2 procurement process, Air Force officials moved to extend the life of the NETCENTS program for a year. The extension, issued in August 2009, applied to the eight indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts under the original NETCENTS.

Air Force procurement officials projected that with $5 billion spent under the contract as of June 2009, there would be no need to raise the $9 billion ceiling on NETCENTS to accommodate the expected $2 billion in additional spending on the contract.

But now, with another delay to the release of the NETCENTS-2 RFPs, some sources say the original NETCENTS contract will need another extension to accommodate the RFP process and full competition of each contract segment.

According to Air Force officials, the Air Force’s Multi-functional Independent Review Team and the Office of the Secretary of Defense completed peer reviews late last fall of the RFPs for NETCENTS-2's four major contract segments.

“The [NETCENTS-2] team is incorporating comments from those reviews and business clearance,” Francine Nix, procuring contract officer for NETCENTS-2, said in an update Nov. 5.

Nix issued a memo Jan. 21 that states that the release of two of the four final RFPs — for network-centric products and enterprise integration and service management — “are targeted for release by the end of January 2010.” Nix’s memo also states that the RFPs for the network operations and infrastructure solutions and application services components of NETCENTS-2 would be released as soon as possible, most likely within two months after the release of the first two.

The further delays on NETCENTS-2’s selection phase don’t come as a surprise to observers because of the procurement's scope and complexity.

In addition, the contract has had some significant changes to the projected scope of its RFPs since last summer. Seven categories of the products segment of NETCENTS-2, pegged at $6.9 billion, have been dropped from evaluation for purchase since the last draft RFP released in October.

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