Fill’er Up with Politics | Citizens Against Government Waste

Fill’er Up with Politics

The WasteWatcher

The Air Force refueling tanker saga started with a provision added to the fiscal 2002 Defense Appropriations Act directing the Air Force to lease 100 Boeing 767’s for new fuel tankers.  It was not only one of the worst examples of corporate welfare, this no-bid lease also ballooned into a major scandal.  Eventually, the Air Force’s chief negotiator on the tanker contract and Boeing’s number-two corporate officer went to jail and Boeing was fined more than $600 million.

The Air Force undertook a new, competitive bid process in 2006 and two companies, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, submitted proposals.  Just before the announcement of the contract winner in 2008, both sides reported in the press that the competition had been fair and transparent.  Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who represents a state where Boeing makes its planes, said on October 31, 2007, “I’m proud that the process for selecting a company to supply these tankers has been a truly open one.”  On February 29, 2008, the Air Force awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman and suddenly the political environment changed in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said, “We’re going to try to eliminate the funding,” according to The Wall Street Journal, and called the decision “one of the worst … in modern history.”  The Chicago Tribune reported that Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kans.) said, “I don’t think the current contract can go forward.”  These members of Congress and others promoting parochial interests are meddling with the defense procurement process to the detriment of taxpayers across the country.  As Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics John Young said, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on April 18, “Overturning this contract decision would set a terrible precedent.”

Boeing has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  The GAO is supposed to report on whether or not the contract was properly awarded by June 19.  Meanwhile, to head off any more meddling, Citizens Against Government Waste has called for everyone to stand aside and let the GAO complete its review.  Taxpayers deserve nothing less.