Special Report

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NetCents-2: A new way of doing business

The six-year, $24.2 billion NetCents-2 program is a major expansion of the smaller and more compact NetCents-1, and its success will be key to the Air Force’s plans to modernize its networks and improve the way it delivers information to warfighters. Its multi-contract makeup reflects many lessons learned from NetCents-1 and, while concerns remain over various of its elements, it will be a major driver towards lower costs, faster delivery of technology and new opportunities for small businesses.

NetCents has proven to be a key driver for the Air Force in its bid to deliver “the right information, in the right format, to the right place, at the right time,” with the latest follow-on contract also aimed at cutting costs and improving delivery times.
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In its first iteration NetCents was a straightforward umbrella contract with a small number of vendors that provided for both products and services. Now it is an ambitious, complex, multi-part program that reflect changing requirements and many lessons learned.
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In its desire to make its networking infrastructure more standards-based and interoperable, the Air Force has made NetCents mandatory for most IT buyers. The mandatory-use policy also might make contractors happier.
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NetCents-1’s small business strategy was seen as aggressive for its day. But now the Air Force has upped the ante, looking to drive even more business to small firms.
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Awards in the multi-billion dollar products category of NetCents-2 are supposed to be largely decided under a lowest price, technically acceptable approach, but not everyone is convinced that that is the best way to go. One key question: Just what is “technically acceptable”?
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