Contract Guide: NetCents-2: Air Force Builds a Bridge to the Future

NetOps targets SOA, legacy systems for network focus

Air force seeks to integrate new capabilities into its operations

As the phrase implies, net-centric is an approach that focuses an organization’s computing and communications resources into a single, networked force. For sprawling enterprises such as the Air Force, that means coming up with technologies and techniques that will integrate previously isolated and far-flung systems with new capabilities and produce an environment that works together as a whole.

Integrating Air Force Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems that were not designed to work together isn’t easy. It’s also expensive. NetCents-2 NetOps and Infrastructure Solutions is the vehicle that the Air Force will mainly depend on to help it cost-effectively develop new network and systems capabilities, and to incorporate those into its operations.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA), for example, has been a constant push for the Air Force as a way of pulling various networked resources and services together. It’s already the basis for several Air Force systems.

The Global Combat Support System, which provides agile combat support for Air Force missions in all military operations, is one example. It’s intended to integrate and modernize combat support information systems that will be hosted on the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Net-Centric Enterprise Systems.

The Air Force wants to use SOA as the basis for many of its other networked systems and increase its ability for more of its warfighters to talk to and collaborate with one another and eventually with other parts of the military through the Joint Information Environment.

It will also allow more flexibility on the contracting side, since the design and development of systems are less dependent on a single vendor. SOA defines various common interfaces through which many vendor systems can be incorporated into the whole. It also separates the design from the execution of a system, allowing for more competition among vendors and therefore improving the price efficiencies the Air Force is pushing for in its IT developments.

Along with what is necessary for SOA, NetCents-2 NetOps will provide a wide range of services and solutions that will cover other existing infrastructure, networks, systems and operations, and cover emerging requirements necessary for both Air Force and Defense Department C4ISR needs worldwide.

When the new contract will be available in its entirety, however, is still an open question. Both the NetCents-2 NetOps Full and Open and Small Business portions of the contract have been beset with numerous protests and, as of the end of July, were still winding their way to a conclusion.

The Small Business competitive pool contract was awarded to 12 companies in April 2014, but almost immediately received 10 protests from vendors challenging the Air Force’s evaluation of their proposals and, in some cases, the source selection. Some the Government Accountability Office partially upheld and the rest were dismissed, the final dismissals coming in late July.

The Full and Open contract has been essentially stalled. In May, Air Force officials said they were trying to get it started again through a memo sent to all offerers informing them that the service will resume source selection. However, the process requires a contract amendment to be released, followed by discussions with offerers, and then final proposal revisions will be requested.

Air Force officials anticipate an award will be made in December, though that’s a tentative target.

NetCents-2 NetOps Small Business vendors (April 2014)

  • American Systems
  • BTAS
  • The Centech Group
  • Epsilon Systems Solutions
  • Indus Corp.
  • Micro Tech
  • Smartronix
  • SMS Data Products Group
  • STG
  • Sumaria Systems
  • Technica
  • Telos