Boeing Wins Key Round in Air Force Tanker Protest

By: AP/13 News
By: AP/13 News

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Congressional investigators have granted
Boeing's protest of a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract awarded
to Northrop Grumman Corp. and Airbus parent European Aeronautic
Defence and Space Co.

The Government Accountability Office decision is not binding, but it puts pressure on the Air Force to re-examine the contract and could help Boeing capture part or all of the award. The was confirmed by the offices of Sens. Patty Murray, R-Wash., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

The decision also gives ammunition to Boeing supporters in Congress seeking to block funding for the deal or force a new competition.

The contract for 179 aerial refueling tankers is the first of three deals worth up to $100 billion to replace the Air Force's entire tanker fleet.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, D-Kansas, statement on GAO ruling:
“Today’s ruling by the federal General Accounting Office to recommend the reopening of bids for the Air Force’s new refueling tanker is incredibly good news for Boeing and our state. I joined fellow Governor Chris Gregoire in expressing serious concerns when the Air Force bid was initially awarded. I’m relieved the GAO has granted Boeing’s appeal, finding the Air Force made changes during the decision process that gave Boeing’s competitor an unfair advantage.

“This decision gives Boeing an opportunity to rebid the contract and would enable them to keep good jobs in Kansas and in states across the country. This is great news for our workers in Wichita as well as all those in the Boeing family.”

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, statement on GAO report:
“I strongly urge the Air Force to take immediate action to correct the deficiencies associated with this procurement,” said Brownback. “The Air Force should not require 60 days to review the GAO statement.”

In its report, the GAO sustained nearly every major argument Boeing made against the Air Force award. The Air Force did not follow its own criteria in evaluating the two proposals and failed to give Boeing credit for meeting a number of key requirements. The Air Force also unfairly rewarded Northrop Grumman for producing a plane far bigger than the stated requirements. In addition, the Air Force did not reasonably calculate the military construction, life cycle and engineering costs associated with these proposals.

“This contract should be overturned and awarded to Boeing. The GAO is not allowed to consider a number of other issues important in this procurement, including foreign subsidies, corruption, and domestic production and employment. These problems when combined with what the GAO found strongly suggest the Boeing 767 is the right tanker for our Armed Forces.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, statement on GAO report:
"We have said repeatedly that the Air Force's decision was wrong
and skewed to the wrong company with the wrong plane. This decision confirms everything we have said. The Air Force has
no choice but to rebid the tanker contract, this time with a level
playing field, for our men and women in uniform, for our national
security and for Kansas workers."

This finding proves that all of our hard work for Boeing over
so many years has made a difference, and we won't stop
now. We'll keep fighting until Boeing wins the contract fair and
square."

"GAO upheld the Boeing Company's protest, finding serious and
fatal flaws in the Air Force's decision to award the contract. We
have an excellent congressional team that has fought tooth and nail for
Boeing workers across the country and we celebrate this decision with
them today. It's right. It's fair. It protects America's national security."


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