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GCN : May 2014
he Air Force has a vested interested in getting as many Air Force buyers as possible to use the Network Centric Solutions contracts. That is because the program was designed to promote the standard- ization and interoperability of the Air Force network infrastructure, while also ensuring compliance with both Air Force and Defense Department technical standards. So the more people use the program, the better it is for the Air Force. That is the rationale behind mak- ing its use was made mandatory for all Air Force IT systems and net- works. Apart from several exceptions --- such as the IT Professional Support and Engineering Services contract, and the acquisition of embed- ded software and systems --- the NetCents-2 contracts "will be the mandatory source for all USAF units purchasing netcentric and IT prod- ucts and solutions that fall under the scope of the contracts," according to a May 2011 memo from the Air Force secretary's of ce. All "new and ongoing" Air Force appropriated fund acquisition efforts shall incorporate NetCents-2 into their acquisition strategy, the memo stated, and any waivers to that re- quirement can only be made by the Air Force chief information of cer. Mandatory use can, in fact, be a pretty useful tool, said Ashley Bergander, manager for federal information solutions at Deltek, Inc., a government market research com- pany. Not only does it help enforce the standardization of the Air Force's net-centric infrastructure, it provides a level of certainty for the companies that are on the contract. "It makes for a more level playing eld, and people know what they are getting in to with NetCents," she said. "For contractors, they know that if they get on to the contracts then there likely will be business coming their way because the contract will be used. With other contracts that don't have mandato- ry use, some users might purchase off them and others won't." A key advantage of mandatory use it that it helps the Air Force CIO meet congressional mandates to closely track the service's IT spend, said Robert Smothers, chief of the Logis- tics and Installation Systems Branch at Maxwell AFB-Gunter Annex, and the NetCents-2 program manager. Another major bene t is that it helps to reduce support costs through leveraging the more than $24 billion in IT requirements that will be met through NetCents-2, thereby ensuring users get the best price. "We think of this as the Wal-Mart effect," Smothers said. "Also, as you can imagine, we reduce support costs through having fewer con gu- rations to maintain." Additionally, he said, the Air Force can reduce procurement overhead and delivery times for IT products and services because the use of the IDIQ contracts in NetCents-2 allows customers to use task orders against pre-quali ed vendors rather than running their own contracts. Like- wise, local base contracting offers and programs managers save both time and money. Sponsored Report NETCENTS-2 NetCents-2 gives boost to Air Force standards FULL REPORT ONLINE Go to GCN.com/2014NETCENTS2 net-centric mission