Management problems at NetCents

The decentralized nature of assigning task orders under the original Network Centric Solutions contract drew criticism from the Defense Department’s inspector general in an October 2007 report.

Management will likely become even more complex under NetCents-2, which could have 51 to 80 prime contractors, especially if the scarcity of management resources identified by Air Force program manager Debra Foster persists.

The IG’s audit of 1,312 task orders worth $634 million found that 34 percent did not meet fair-opportunity requirements, 57 percent were not properly competed, and 14 percent did not adhere to information assurance requirements.

The IG concluded that a lack of adequate internal controls to track orders awarded through the NetCents contract caused the discrepancies. The report also found that some DOD customers were paying the General Services Administration to fill NetCents task orders instead of using DOD contracting offices, wasting more than $600,000 on GSA fees.

The IG also concluded that NetCents customers picked incorrect industry codes for some task orders. The choice affects the criteria for small-business set-asides under federal contracts.

Choosing incorrect industry codes allows larger businesses to compete for some task orders set aside for small businesses. The Air Force disagreed that small businesses were treated unfairly under NetCents.

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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