Some New Tanker Gouge

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Ok, so I met today with a senior Northrop Grumman official who chatted with me about the ongoing Tanker Tango from the NorGrum/EADS perspective.

Sure, a lot of the conversation was about KPPs this, and job opportunities that. But he dropped a couple news tidbits I thought I'd throw your way.

First of all, the official told me the Air Force had formally submitted a request to the GAO to throw out the Boeing protest on Wednesday.

This is different from an earlier request to dismiss. That one concerned issues Boeing had brought up in their protest that the Air Force considered invalid, such as WTO conflicts and government subsidies.

GAO rejected that request for dismissal, so the Air Force compiled its case against the Boeing protest on the merits of the company's specific allegations, this official told me. The service has asked the GAO to dismiss the protest in its entirety.

I asked for a copy of the AF protest, but couldn't get it because the companies need to redact any proprietary information before it can be released.

Second, and kind of along the same lines, it turns out the Air Force, stung by the last tanker implosion that forced its secretary out of office and jailed two Boeing officials, Red Teamed the heck out of the tanker award before it was announced. I've been thinking all along that it seems to me the Air Force wouldn't risk a mis-dotted "i" or an un-crossed "t" given its previous experience.

Well, the NorGrum official told me that for a month and a half, the Air Force convened a Red Team of the Army and Navy's top procurement officers, staffers from Pentagon acquisition chief John Young's office and Pentagon IG officials at Wright Patterson Air Force base. The team was tasked with poking holes in the contract process to make sure there could be no protest from either side on how the Air Force handled the competition.

So it seems, on the face of it, that if proponents of the protest are trying in some way to impugn the Air Force on a slip shod process, assuming this Red Team happened, it doesn't hold much water.

Again, I just thought I'd pass along the info. And, I'd be happy to speak with Boeing's tanker team any time to get their side of the story if they offer.

-- Christian

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