Benavides: Air Force looking beyond Netcents

Although it awarded the five-year contract in late 2004, the Air Force is already thinking beyond its $9 billion Network Centric Solutions program because it falls short of meeting the service's enterprisewide needs, according to an Air Force procurement official.

Speaking at the FOSE trade show in Washington this week, Matthew Benavides, director of acquisitions and commodities at the Air Force's Operations and Sustainment Systems Group near Montgomery, Ala., said that as the contract nears its middle and end stages, the service is mulling its options.

The concern 'is that Netcents already has a shelf life, and we're starting to think about how we can replace it,' Benavides said.

The Air Force awarded Netcents in September 2004 to four large vendors and four small businesses. Work under the five-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract includes engineering, software development, integration, security and telephone services, as well as voice, video and data hardware and software supporting the Defense Department's Global Information Grid architecture.

Benavides said that because the contract expires in September 2009, the service is already looking beyond Netcents. 'It's kind of a vulnerability, if you will,' Benavides said after his speech. 'It just means from a service offering, we don't have as much useful life that customers would need as they see some of their enterprise challenges going forward.'

Instead, the service is close to moving forward on two significant procurements: IT Services and IT Services-small business, he said.

'We anticipate there will be a follow-on to Netcents sometime in 2009, but the planning process can take up to two years for a contract of this magnitude,' Benavides said. 'In addition, we will also be developing other contracts like the IT Services follow-on in the meantime to supplement Netcents.'

The Air Force will likely hold an industry day and release a draft request for proposals for IT Services in May, with a final RFP in July and an award by the end of the year, he said.

For the small-business version, Benavides said the Air Force would likely have a draft RFP out this November and award the contract by February 2007.

The IT Services contracts will offer a full range of IT services and solutions, including software, networks, security, engineering, data, training, management and other related IT services, such as consulting and subject matter experts, he said.

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