Air Force boosts value of network hardware contract by $1.45 billion

Service reopens discussions with bidders in disputed follow-on deal.

The Air Force Electronics Systems Center plans to increase the value of its existing network hardware contract by $1.45 billion to a total of $10.45 billion and extend it through September 2013 as it works to resolve protests over a follow-on contract awarded this spring.

ESC said the extension of its original Network-Centric Solutions contract will protect against disruptions in the supply of standard hardware for Air Force global networks and cyber defense. The original NETCENTS was awarded in 2004 to Booz Allen Hamilton, Centech Group, General Dynamics Corp., Harris Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Telos.

The NETCENTS contracts include switches, hubs, gateways, routers, firewalls, servers, tape drives, satellite terminals, microwave and Wi-Fi hardware, and land mobile radios.

The Air Force awarded the NETCENTS 2 contracts, valued at $6.9 billion over 10 years, to Blue Tech Inc., FedStore Corp., General Dynamics Information Technology, GTSI Corp., Iron Bow Technologies LLC, M2 Technology Corp and Red River Computer Co., on April 12. Eighteen companies protested the awards in April and May.

ESC then reopened the competition to both winners and losers in May.

The Air Force has just completed its second NETCENTS final proposal evaluation and ESC contracting officer Francine Nix told vendors in a Nov. 5 letter that discussions have been reopened with bidders in the competitive range.

Though bidders were cautioned that any change in their technical proposals might affect ratings and acceptance of their proposal, a number of offerors made such changes and did not follow instructions to ensure accuracy and completeness, Nix said.

She said she expects to release evaluation notices to NETCENTS 2 bidders this week.