Boeing KC-767

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.

NG/EADS KC-45

7 Comments

  1. Charles

    What is the world coming to? Grumman is making transport/refuelers and Boeing is making Naval fighters. I call shenanigans.

  2. Without being too much of a smartass, I’m really curious if anyone in the USAF acquisitions field knows what the hell they’re doing. Our last “successful” acquisitions program has been the JSF. Using that program as your benchmark success kind of says it all, I think.

  3. Steeljawscribe

    Well, Grumman has built tankers and transport aircraft and Boeing has built naval fighters in its past. 😉
    – SJS

  4. Steeljawscribe

    “Without being too much of a smartass, I’m really curious if anyone in the USAF acquisitions field knows what the hell they’re doing. Our last “successful” acquisitions program has been the JSF. Using that program as your benchmark success kind of says it all, I think.”

    Being a subscriber to the glass houses/rocks beatitude, I’d point out that examples abound in the other services re. procurements gone awry ($3B destroyer anyone?). It’s just the junior Service’s turn in the heat lamp – maybe with a touch of karma tossed in for good matter…
    – SJS

  5. I doubt the SecAF and AF Chief of Staff’s departure had anything to do with this travesty. Not to start another catfight, but that I think had to do more with Army whining about the AF’s inability to slake their insatiiable thirst for UAV coverage. From the comments to date since contract award, the users are the ones who most want the KC-45, so putting a ‘transport’ guy in may be a plus for NG in the end. (I consider him more of a special operator, and I haven’t heard anything from my SOCOM friends about him either way yet)

    Your last point is most salient and is the number one tragedy in this. This slows up delivery (again) to the people who need it.

    We have now sadly entered Phase II of Boeing’s subversion of the acquisition process through political machination.

  6. Jim Collins

    I guess it pays to own Congresscritters. 😆

  7. rich

    So, How does it get fixed?
    How do we ensure the warfighter gets
    the correct tasking and the equipment
    and support for that tasking in a timely
    and cost effective process? Then fix the process
    errors and ensure it continues to work well
    through suceeding administrations without
    undue pressure from outside influences
    like congress or industry?
    I know I’m asking the million $ question
    with an answer that eludes us now-
    I’m just not in a position to be as knowledgeable
    as you folks. Seems like something like a tanker
    would be a good one to try some new ideas on-
    we already know some of the things that do not work,
    It also seems 2 large defense contractors and a branch
    of the military could come together and come up
    with something that tries to let everyone, especially
    the warfighter, win in the end. Maybe I’m too naive.

Comments are closed.