Major shift on split tanker contract

Update, April 3: The New York Times has this long piece on the prospect of a split procurement.

Original post:

It is a subtle but major shift on the controversial proposal to split the KC-X aerial tanker contract between Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

KIRO TV (CBS) in Seattle interviewed US Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/WA), who throughout the previous competitions has been dogmatically in favor of a single contract to Boeing. Dicks is #2 on the House Appropriations Committee, where any funding bill will have to originate. The chairman of the committee is US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who came out solidly in favor of a split contract as the only way to break the logjam over an award.

We were told last week that Dicks must be on board with Murtha behind the scenes, however grudgingly, or Murtha wouldn’t be out front on this. In fact, we had heard a rumor, circulating while Boeing’s protest of the award was still pending at the GAO, that Dicks had more-or-less come around to a split award, but since we didn’t confirm it, we didn’t write about it.

Now it comes from the horse’s mouth: KIRO reports that Dicks said, “If that’s what’s decided at the end of the day, we’ll have to live with that, but I think we have a chance to win this thing outright.”

This is a major shift on Dicks’ part. If Dicks is willing to “live with” a split buy, the next Member of Congress to watch will be Sen. Patty Murray (D-Boeing/WA). If she goes along, the sun will rise in the West. If Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Boeing/KS) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Boeing/KS) go along, then maybe it really will snow in hell.

7 Comments on “Major shift on split tanker contract

  1. Murtha has nothing to do with Dick’s thinking, I guarantee it.

    If Dicks is going to back a split buy, it’s because he got a phone call.

    From Boeing.

    And Boeing could care less about Tihart or Kansas, they are getting thrown under the bus by design. They can’t be rid of Kansas fast enough.

    It’s clear to me that Boeing itself now wants a split buy, seeing tanker orders coming soon enough to keep the 767 line open as the imperative over the total number of units delivered.

    The conspiracy theorist in me, roleplaying Boeing, imagines this scenario also:

    ‘Let Airbus establish Commercial Aerospace in Alabama. They can train the local populace, establish aerospace oriented infrastructure and support.

    Then We’ll move in right next door. If they tank, we have ready made facilities and workers.’

    In other words, they probably have come of the opinion that a split buy is a good deal looking long.

    To bad about the taxpayer though. They are going to get robbed.

  2. What an excellent post for April 1st! Its funny even if its true – of which I have no doubt.

    As far as robbing the taxpayer – well that is what politicians do or was there something else we should expect?

  3. Norm Dicks’ (and a lot of current politicos) strongly held views and opinions are typically a long ways from reality and fact. Bluster and super-ego prevent re-evaluation of positions held dear.

    The longer positions of power are held, the stronger this syndrome becomes. Unfortunately the individuals position in relation to the ‘isle’ isn’t much of a factor.

  4. Your may want to update your article. Checkout DoD Buzz, “Dual Tanker Buy Could Save Billions: Murtha”.

  5. It is really sad that politics today means giving corporate welfare to companies like Boeing. They provided an inferior and outdated product with the KC-767, at a price tag $3 Billion higher, and yet they will get part of the award. Only in Congress. Must be DOD stimulus package.

  6. Senator Shelby has put a hold on the nomination of Ashton Carter, who is being proposed to replace John Young as the Asst Secretary of Defense for Acquisition. Although he can’t stop the nomination he can hold it up. Apparently, he wants assurances that “the nominee won’t change the criteria in a heated competition for a $35 billion refueling tanker contract.”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Ala-senator-blocks-Pentagon-apf-14844613.html

  7. People seem to be assuming that the tanker modification work will be performed in Kansas by Boeing. At this very moment, Boeing is currently laying-off its tanker engineering specialists in Wichita and just slashed the benefits for those that remain.

    The word within the company is that Boeing (if ti gets half or all of the contract) will do the mod work in Long Beach to utilize the C17 facilities that are fast becoming idle.

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