Andrea Shalal-Esa, of Reuters, reports today:
The Pentagon's internal watchdog is examining if the Air Force and Boeing Co had inappropriate contacts about a multi-billion dollar push to buy more C-17 transport planes, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
The review follows a request by Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican presidential contender and the man whose dogged investigation helped kill in 2004 a $23.5 billion Boeing-Air Force deal for 100 Boeing 767 aerial refueling tankers.
At issue is whether the Air Force wrongfully induced or encouraged Boeing to spend its own money to maintain suppliers for C-17 production, even though there are no military requirements on record for extra planes. In fact, the military has already set aside $500 million for the closing of the C-17 production line, now scheduled for 2009.
"I am troubled by the Air Force's apparent disregard for proper acquisition policy, practice and procedure, and seeming eagerness to further contractors' interests," McCain wrote in his September request, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
McCain said he was particularly concerned about an Air Force briefing slide that specifically mentioned Boeing's drive to sell more C-17s. The slide called for the Air Force to give some "firm indication" to Congress by June 1 that it favored multiyear procurement of C-17s.
He said he was also troubled by a statement by Ken Miller, special assistant to Wynne, that Boeing had asked the Air Force to work the C-17 procurement into its program objective memorandum (POM) for fiscal year 2008 or 2009.
Those documents, McCain said, were meant to be internal service estimates of their forces and weapons systems within fiscal constraints set by the defense secretary. As key planning documents, they were not supposed to "be influenced by, or otherwise reflect discussions with, industry."