That seems to be the thinking behind some rather odd language on the Air Force's Network-Centric Solutions-2 contracts buried deep in the 1,200-page fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act President Obama signed Wednesday.
The Air Force has been trying to award NETCENTS-2 contracts – valued at $24 billion – since 2009. The agreements cover hardware, software, engineering services and applications, with separate awards for large and small businesses.
The service awarded the large business hardware contract valued at $6.9 billion last April, only to get hit with protests by 18 companies. It still has four contracts in the pipeline.
The language on NETCENTS-2 in the Defense act (Section 866) seems designed to eliminate any more protests by allowing anyone who submits a bid to win an award. When you get down to it, that’s nothing more than a chance to compete for task orders with everyone else, for the price of a stamp.
The provision says, “Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this act, the secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a plan to increase the number of contractors eligible to be awarded contracts under the Air Force's Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract.”
It then adds the Air Force should develop a timeline to increase the current number of eligible contractors under NETCENTS-2 and dates of future “on-ramps” under NETCENTS-2 to assess current eligible contractors and add additional eligible contractors.
Methinks this language resulted from a lot of vendor whining.