Multibillion-dollar AF Netcents IT contracts are expected soon

The Air Force might speed up the schedule for its expected award of multiple contracts under its multibillion-dollar Network Centric Solutions program.

A source said the Air Force is hoping to award the contracts a few weeks earlier than the September deadline to coincide with the Air Force IT Conference in Montgomery, Ala., which begins today, Aug. 30.

The service released a request for proposals on the $10 billion backbone procurement in early April. So far, three major contractors, ManTech International Corp. of Fairfax, Va.; Northrop Grumman Corp.; and General Dynamics Corp., have unveiled the lists of subcontractors they would use.

Under the program, called Netcents, the Air Force will award multiple indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts for IT products and services. These include engineering, software development, integration, security and telephone services, plus voice, video and data hardware and software.

Netcents replaces the Air Force's Unified Local Area Network Architecture II, or ULANA II contract, which expired February 2003. The service has been using the Navy's Voice, Video and Data contract, also known as Vivid.

The Air Force, under Netcents, will award seven contracts'four to large companies and three to small businesses. The products and services under Netcents also will be open to buyers in other Defense Department and civilian agencies.

An Air Force spokeswoman declined to discuss the five-year initiative, saying it was too close to contract award.

A team led by ManTech International Corp. of Fairfax, Va., includes three large companies and 11 small businesses, among them BAE Systems Inc., EMC Corp., Qwest Communications Government Services Inc., American Systems Corp. of Chantilly, Va., and Native American Industrial Distributors Inc. of Upper Marlboro, Md.

Boeing Co., GTSI Corp. of Chantilly, Va., Accenture Ltd., CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., and Raytheon Co. have joined a team headed by General Dynamics Corp.

Northrop Grumman has chosen 10 large companies and 24 small businesses as its team to compete for the procurements. Some of Northrop's partners include Computer Sciences Corp., Science Applications International Corp. and BearingPoint Inc.

A Lockheed Martin Corp. spokesman said his company is putting together a team for Netcents.

Standard vehicle

The Air Force began Netcents because the service lacked a standard contract-ordering vehicle for integrated network systems. Currently, the Air Force uses the Navy's Vivid vehicle or pieces together hardware and software to build and maintain its networks, according to officials.

'Netcents will provide an Air Force standard ordering vehicle for full network systems design, development, integration, installation and lifecycle support,' according to the Netcents Web site.
Speaking at an industry event, John Gilligan, Air Force CIO, said he would use Netcents to enforce Air Force standards such as those for interoperability.

The Air Force's Headquarters Standard Systems Group, located at Gunter Annex-Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., oversees the Netcents procurement.

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