Reports: EADS saw Boeing’s tanker bid data

The Seattle Times and the New York Times report today that EADS North America opened a computer file containing data about Boeing’s tanker bid.

The US Air Force inadvertently sent the file to EADS. Boeing received a similar file containing data about EADS’ tanker proposal, but did not open it, according to the reports.

In statements to reporters since the USAF mix-up story broke, EADS NA officials have not been entirely forthcoming about the actions of their employees, but neither have they lied.

Last Tuesday, I asked EADS NA CEO Sean O’Keefe this question: “What is your process for dealing with this? Do you just hit the delete key and send it back?” [See full video clip here.]

O’Keefe replied: “It is a very clear proscribed effort when this kind of stuff — when there is any kind of information that you know that isn’t standard for issue in these kinds of circumstances, what you do is you immediately pack it up and send back to the contracting officer. And that’s what we did.”

That statement appears to be entirely true, but omits the essential fact that an EADS employee looked at Boeing’s data. Is it possible to be truthful and misleading at the same time?

Immediately preceding that question, I asked O’Keefe if he is concerned that Boeing is now privy to EADS’ proprietary bid data as a result of the mix-up. His response is perhaps more meaningful now as the new facts have emerged.

Said O’Keefe: “I suspect probably no more or no less so than they [Boeing] feel concerned about whatever exposure we may have received. And so I just won’t speculate on that. Ask them.”

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8 Responses to Reports: EADS saw Boeing’s tanker bid data

  1. K 1 December, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    After some issues Boeing instituted training which dealt with this. The upshot is if you receive such information, you don’t “just send it back to the contracting officer” – you report it to legal and they set up an investigation and take over the process.

  2. ewaggin 1 December, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    “Proscribed” S/B “prescribed”?

    In the passage “It is a very clear proscribed effort…”, “prescribed” would seem to fit the context much better.

    Ironically, in the first version of the NYT article on this subject Mr. O’Keefe was quoted as saying, “As soon as we realized what we had, the disc was backed up and returned to the Air Force.” A correction was subsequently issued to replace “backed up with “packed up”.

  3. RobH 1 December, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Kinda like the way China ‘packed up and sent back’ our EP-3 from Hainan?

    It would be naive to assume they didn’t already have each other’s data anyway.

  4. George Zip 2 December, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    I find it amusing that anyone could believe both companies did not read each other’s data. These are not charities, these are global A&D companies, and ours is by nature a savage marketplace. Anyone who has studied at one of the top U.S. MBA schools will appreciate that it’s dog eat dog out there, and you don’t get anywhere by being nice.

    Plausible deniability? Easy. Find a young, disposable lieutenant in your company, and give him (or her) a nod and a wink as you leave your office – and the envelope – for a 10 minute stroll around the office.

  5. Atomic Walrus 2 December, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    George Zip – that’s a very cynical attitude. There are severe legal consequences for companies engaging in that type of behaviour (you get sued by your competitor, fined or penalized by the government, etc.) You hear about some executives indulging in that type of activity, but it’s usually in the context of them being fired for it. You’ve been watching too many movies and TV shows.

  6. Sven Ortmann 3 December, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Oh, come on. Both parties know the other’s offer without such gaffes.
    Airbus either gets its info from corporate spying or it gets the info fed from a European intelligence agency.

    Boeing get the info as well – giving the deal to Boeing was the whole point of the exercise in the first place. That’s why they relaunched the tender.

  7. Warez 3 December, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    Muy buena información, estoy 100% de acuerdo, me gustan muchos los contenidos del blog, tienen algun Twitter o rss feeds para seguir y ver novedades? Saludos!

  8. Darell Reuber 5 January, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    If sections of the government and military are running amok as we see in WikiLeaks, then I have ZERO issue with that being aired out. If you don’t want corrupt actions to be broadcast, then don’t do them in the first place.

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