The ever-controversial acquisition process for the US Air Force’s $35 billion KC-X tanker contract is again in the spotlight this morning. Two Department of Defense officials are set to be grilled by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The senators will be looking for answers. A few months ago, it was revealed that the USAF goofed – big-time – and sent a compact disc containing an evaluation of one element of Boeing’s proposal to EADS North America and vice versa.
EADS has acknowledged that its employees opened the computer file, but did not read past the first page after detecting the USAF’s shipping blunder. Boeing says its employees recognized the letters “K30” on the file name, and did not open the document.
The senate wants to know how the files were sent to the wrong bidders in the first place, and how the evaluation process may be impacted by the revelation. Maj Gen Wendy M. Masiello, the USAF’s program executive officer for combat and mission support, will be in a difficult position.
It could be a challenge for her to fully answer the senators’ questions even as the KC-X evaluation process remains ongoing. The senators also will hear testimony from Steven D. Shirley, executive director of DOD’s cyber crime center, who will be asked about the results of the internal investigation.
As the hearing unfolds, observers will be closely watching for clues about the USAF’s current thinking on the timing for contract award. In an acquisition process already stung twice in the last decade by scandal and procedural error, the hearing this morning may write another chapter in the troubled saga of the KC-X competition.
Documents provided to the Committee released today by the SASC
Disclosure Investigation Findings