Well, this just got more interesting…
Agency Recommends Air Force Reopen the Bid Process
Washington, DC – (June 18, 2008) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO)today sustained the Boeing Company’s protest of the Department of the Air Force’s award of a contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation for KC-X aerial refueling tankers. Boeing challenged the Air Force’s technical and cost evaluations, conduct of discussions, and source selection decision.
“Our review of the record led us to conclude that the Air Force had made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman. We therefore sustained Boeing’s protest,” said Michael R. Golden, the GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law. “We also denied a number of Boeing’s challenges to the award to Northrop Grumman, because we found that the record did not provide us with a basis to conclude that the agency had violated the legal requirements with respect to those challenges.” (full press release here)
As pointed out elsewhere – notably over at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) site, the GAO decision is not a comment on the merit of the two competitor’s aircraft. Rather, it is based on irregularities in the bid process as investigated by the GAO. Combined with the recent resignations of the AF’s top leadership (could SECDEF have had in inkling the GAO decision would go the way it did today?), the nomination of a transporter for the next CSAF there are some turbulent times indeed ahead for the Service, and of course, Boeing and Northrop-Grumman/EADS. Those most affected though, are the airmen who will continue flying and maintaining the aging inventory longer than envisioned, more so since one presumes the next bid process will be rigorously reviewed.