GAO Report issued

We haven’t read it, but here is it, all 67 pages in PDF form. b-311344__boeing__redacted_decision.

Update, 1215 PM PDT: We’ve completed a quick read of the GAO decision. In it, the GAO found–as previously reported–for Boeing on a number of key elements. The GAO also rejected Boeing’s protests on far more complaints than were sustained, but only a small number of these are discussed in the report. Some of these were key elements in Boeing’s public relations campaign. But that’s neither here nor there–the elements detailed by the GAO in sustaining the protest are enough.

The GAO report also makes it clear that in defending the decision, on occasion neither the Air Force nor Northrop Grumman provided information for the record that refuted Boeing’s complaints–thus leading the GAO to side with Boeing.

It is clear from our reading of the report that a rebid, correcting deficiencies outlined in the GAO report, is indeed warranted. The news report we posted earlier today suggesting that the Air Force may proceed with the award as issued without a rebid is an unwise course of action.

Among the key points in the GAO report is the conclusion that Boeing’s KC-767 did indeed score better than the KC-30 in the more important criteria identified in the USAF RFP, while the KC-30 outscored the KC-767 in criteria that was less important to the requirements of the aircraft. While the GAO sides with the Air Force that the KC-30 does offer “more” as the Air Force stated when announcing the award, the GAO concludes that the RFP doesn’t allow for the extra credit that was awarded for this extra capability–yet this was the key to the USAF’s decision announced on February 29.

The GAO also sides with Boeing about the “survivability” assertion that the KC-767 scored better. Furthermore, the GAO says the record calls into question the KC-30’s ability to maneuver safely in emergency break-away situations, largely because neither the Air Force nor Northrop provided adequate documentation or analysis for the record to enable the GAO to conclude otherwise.

A fair reading of the GAO decision leaves room for no other conclusion: the USAF process was fatally flawed. A recompete is necessary.

We will be re-reading the report in greater detail and may update our report here in the coming days.

Update, 230 PM PDT: Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia opines on the tanker mess in his monthly newsletter. Catch it here: Our long national nightmare.

7 Comments on “GAO Report issued

  1. The thing that most disgusts me is the Air Force had to know this contract award was going to be critically viewed and yet the mistakes made were so large. It will be interesting to see what comes of the meeting between Gates/Young and the USAF because the acquisition corps of the USAF appears to be an unmitigated disaster.

    IMHO, after reading the GAO’s redacted decision, it does appear less harsh than initially announced. Of the 7 points made, I feel most can be rectified in a new RFP:

    #1 – can be re-written to expand or contract grading of non-mandatory technical requirements

    #2 – can be re-written to allow “extra credit” for exceeding KPPs; this would probably force Boeing into a B764 or B772-size airframe

    #3 – I initially took this to mean the A332 couldn’t refuel every USAF aircraft; after reading the decision, it means there are breakaway issues that need to be proven; I believe this can be handled thru a doctrine change and not as part of the RFP

    #4 and #5 – well, you can’t fix shady; it seems folks in USAF acquisition jobs are untouchable

    #6 – this made Boeing’s total bid $92 million less than EADS; a re-bid should give taxpayers a lower cost

    #7 – this point is just too complicated for me to follow; seems like a simulation problem

    I’ll say again what I said earlier. Procuring 1 tanker a month to replace 500 tankers is not good enough. The USAF has missions for both airframes and the new CSAF supports an increase to 26 airframes a year. Dual-source the award and be done with it. The folks in the field need a replacement NOW.

  2. What I find most interesting is the finding by the GAO on page 54 that concludes that NG’s failing to commit to a 2 year time frame for depot level maintenance as the most fatal flaw of all. The GAO notes: “It is a fundamental principle in a negotiated procurement that a proposal that fails to conform to a material solicitation requirement is technically unacceptable and cannot form the basis for award.” A paragraph later it goes on to say: “In sum, the Air Force improperly accepted Northrop Grumman’s proposal, where that proposal clearly took exception to a material solicitation requirement.79”.

    My read is that this could be construed as Northrop Grumman’s proposal is/was “Non-Responsive”. In other words, it should have been disqualified.

    This is no minor technicality.

  3. Well done to Dick Aboulafia on another brilliant piece of Boeing propaganda. The bias is simply pouring out of him.

  4. That is simply an appallingly poor piece written by Mr. Aboulafia. It would not matter if you qualified it as reporting or analysis, it is simply a hack piece of journalism. Having read the report, no where does it indicate the GAO felt the Air Force DELIBERATELY misled Boeing. The GAO felt the Air Force misled Boeing through what turned out to be unequal discussions on one factor. The GAO does not state it was intentional and meant to handicap Boeing. It simply stated that ended up being the result.

    That is the basis upon which Mr. Aboulafia’s accusations against Senator McCain are built. It is basically a hack piece. If the author has additional information upon which he is basing these accusations, then he should reveal it. If he does not, then he should retract this piece immediately as it is unsubstantiated theory stated as fact and shows a complete lack of journalistic judgment.

    And I shouldn’t have to qualify my statements on this, but I am not a fan of Senator McCain. I have also always given Mr. Aboulafia the benefit of the doubt due to the respect others in the industry seem to show him. I am honestly confused how anyone would seem him as anything but a complete partisan at this point.

  5. ihate2fly,

    You have got it all wrong. You can’t go and change the rules after the proposals have been submitted without requsting new proposals from each supplier. I was initially skeptical of the Boeing protest, but now I see the Air Force really dropped the ball on this. They seemed to to good processes in place. but poor executuion. Reading the testimony it was apparent to me that they did not have enough “Tanker” experts on staff to review these proposals. My biggest surprise that the GAO basically said NGC bid should have been judged non compliant do to them not commiting to supporting a organic depot in two years.

  6. “You have got it all wrong. You can’t go and change the rules after the proposals have been submitted without requsting new proposals from each supplier. ”

    That’s not what I was saying. What I was saying is this contract, IMHO, will go to a new RFP and re-bid. I simply stated what I felt could be changed in a new RFP before news bids are accepted.

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