Hey, let’s give everyone an Air Force network contract

New law asks Defense to increase number of eligible contractors.

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.