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USAF Sent Info on Opposing Bids to KC-X Rivals

What!?!?!

Just when we thought this was going to be wrapped up soon, the Air Force has mistakenly given Boeing and EADS information on the other team's respective bids for KC-X.

Read the following from Defense News:

"Earlier this month, there was a clerical error that resulted in limited amounts of identical source selection information being provided to both KC-X offerors concerning their competitor's offer," Air Force spokesman Col. Les Kodlick said Nov. 20. "Both offerors immediately recognized the error and contacted the Air Force contracting officers."

Kodlick said the service is analyzing the information that was inadvertently disclosed and has taken steps to ensure that both competitors have had equal access to the same information. The service is also trying to find out how the mistake happened and ensure that it is not repeated.

It sounds like this mix up factored into the delays in awarding the $35 billion contract for 179 refuelers. While Pentagon planners insisted the award would be made some time this "fall," the KC-X  RfP listed an award date of Nov. 12. That's clearly come and gone with no contract.  

"The KC-X source selection will continue. This incident will not impact our schedule for source selection," Kodlick said. "However, certain aspects of the source selection have taken slightly longer than originally anticipated and we currently expect the award to occur early next year"

Boeing and EADS formally declined to comment on the latest episode in the protracted tanker saga.

But executives from both giants obliquely explained that the gaffe appeared to be an honest mistake in an otherwise impeccable competition. They said the contest, this time around, has been run with such evenhandedness that neither side has been able to glean much information on its own status, much less its competitor's.

Execs said that made the error all the more stunning.

One said the ethical thing to do when a company received documents that were not intended for them was to not review them and to bring the error to the Air Force's attention.

Moreover, the exec said, "That kind of stuff can easily be tracked, so everyone knows you don't mess around."

Who knows what this latest development in the decade long saga to replace some, just some, of the air service's ancient KC-135s (like the one pictured above) will mean.

Here's the article.

-- John Reed

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