Winners await first NetCents task orders

Air Force information technology officials at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., could be the first to use the service's multibillion-dollar Network Centric Solutions (NetCents) contract.

IT officials at Hill said they plan to use NetCents for logistics, telecommunications and computer maintenance work, and Hanscom's IT leaders expect to use it for the service's Combat Information Transport System (CITS) program, said Melva Strang, program manager for NetCents at Hanscom. CITS will let Air Force officials more quickly, easily and reliably communicate during warfighting.

Carleton Jones, president and chief operating officer of Multimax Inc., one of eight companies that received a NetCents contract, confirmed that the first task orders could come from Hill and Hanscom. Jones said the company and its team members would pursue any and all of the contract's projects.

Air Force officials announced earlier this month the award of eight contracts under the five-year, $9 billion NetCents program. Four contracts went to Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., General Dynamics Corp.'s Network Systems division, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Northrop Grumman IT.

The others went to small businesses: Centech Group Inc., Multimax, NCI Information Systems Inc. and Telos Corp.

"We are pleased to have these contractors on board, especially the small and small, disadvantaged businesses," said Frank Weber, executive director of the Headquarters Standard Systems Group, the Air Force's IT procurement organization based in Montgomery, Ala.

NetCents provides Air Force officials with a new contract for buying net-centric technologies, networking equipment and services, and voice, video and data communications hardware and software.

"We now have highly flexible contract vehicles in place to cover the entire range of networking and telephony products and services requirements for the Air Force," said Brig. Gen. Bradley Butler, the Air Force's deputy chief information officer.

The procurement replaces the Air Force's Unified Local Area Network Architecture II contract, which expired in February. Since then, service officials have used the Navy's Voice, Video and Data contract for IT purchases.

NetCents officials will hold meetings with the winning companies during the week of Oct. 4 in Montgomery to discuss the procurement's objectives and upcoming task orders.

Service officials will install a new Web server for managing the requirements and viewing task orders. Winning vendors have two months to get their Web sites ready for e-commerce, Strang said.

Jones said Air Force officials made a good decision by requiring the companies to support e-commerce. "It's easier for the customer to order," he said.

Air Force officials issued the NetCents request for proposals in April. They had planned to solicit vendors in January, but officials in the Defense Department's CIO office reportedly wanted the contract reworked to adhere to computer enterprise standards.

Service officials also needed to rewrite the acquisition strategy because of new military contracting formats, said industry officials familiar with the contract.

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