backtop


Print 43 comment(s) - last by MCKENZIE1130.. on Nov 29 at 8:11 PM


Boeing NewGen tanker

EADS tanker

Because sometimes one facepalm isn't enough.
Letters sent to the wrong companies by mistake

The long running contest to find a replacement for the Air Force's fleet of tanker aircraft used to refuel aircraft has hit another snag. The latest gaffe happened in the bidding contest that has resulted in each of the participating bidders inadvertently being sent information on the competitors offering by the Air Force.

The Air Force accidentally sent letters to Boeing and EADS that were meant to go to the other company. The letters each company received were the Integrated fleet Aerial Refueling Assessments (IFARA) the Air Force prepared on the bidding aircraft.

Air Force spokesman Col. Les Kodlick said, "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. Both offerors immediately recognized the error and contacted the Air Force contracting officers."

The IFARA letter is something that the Air Force prepares that outlines scenarios to determine how many of the tankers will be needed. The assessment takes into consideration fuel and construction costs reports Defense News. The IFARA is considered the biggest risk factor in the tanker bidding program.

The Air Force says that the error will not delay the bidding process and that it is taking action to ensure than an error like this is not repeated. Both Boeing and EADS offered no official comment on the errors. Executives from both aircraft companies did say that in a situation like that the only ethical thing to do was to not review the documents.

Defense News quotes on unnamed exec stating, "That kind of stuff can easily be tracked, so everyone knows you don't mess around."

Kodlick said, "The KC-X source selection will continue. This incident will not impact our schedule for source selection. 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."

It's still not clear if the error will affect the contest, despite the Air Force saying the process will not be delayed. However, if the Air Force requests another bid from the companies, the error could affect the process according to some familiar with the situation.

"We have to see whether the exchange of the data affects the competition, especially if the next round will be the best-and-final bids. Then it might be of some value to have the other person's information," said Jacques Gansler, a former Pentagon acquisition chief who teaches public policy at the University of Maryland.

This is the latest issue in the problem prone bidding process. Boeing submitted its NewGen tanker proposal to the Air Force in July 2010. EADS came back to the bidding process with a new U.S. partner in June 2010 after dropping out when Northrop-Grumman pulled out of the bidding war.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Wait one ...
By US56 on 11/22/2010 3:43:20 PM , Rating: 3
The "mistake" could have been strategic. It's very common if not SOP for the contracting agency to leak details of the opposing offer(s), both technical approach and cost, to the other competitor(s). The justification for it, especially going into the "best and final offer" phase of negotiations, is that it's in the interest of the taxpayers to get the best deal for the government. Usually the leaks are asymmetric. Often each competitor or at least the top competitors have their own supporting faction within the contracting agency. In this case, due to the tortured history of the program and the likelihood that the competitor which does not receive the award will again protest unless the AF is absolutely meticulous about not appearing to favor either competitor, the AF may have simply chosen to do a bilateral or symmetric leak. It's easily blamed on a "clerical error" for plausible deniability. In the case of the tanker program, EADS has no doubt submitted a loss-leader bid knowing that the contractor which gets the award could be on board for 50-60 years with a very real possibility to profit on future production blocks and a huge opportunity for future support contracts which may not yet even be envisioned. Boeing is not usually put in that situation and it was obvious in the previous rounds involving EADS they had difficulty dealing with it straight up. The AF may have "accidentally" released a certain amount of technical and pricing information to both bidders which would normally not be done in order to break a logjam in negotiations.




"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

Related Articles













botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki