We attended a press conference today in Washington (DC) with Sean O’Keefe, CEO of EADS North America, that covered a variety of issues but focused mainly on the KC-X tanker competition and most particularly the news last week that the USAF had sent proprietary information about the Boeing and EADS tanker bids to the wrong company.
First, O’Keefe remains in the neck collar from his near-fatal airplane accident in Alaska August 9 in which former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and three others were killed. Sean and his teenage son, Kevin, were about five survivors. O’Keefe’s spirits are good and he expressed that the random nature of those killed and who survived is proof that divine intervention is “real.”
Having interviewed O’Keefe on previous occasions, we are gratified to see his recovery progressing and him back at work.
Here is a quick snaphshot of O’Keefe’s remarks:
- O’Keefe accepts the USAF word that the delivery of the proprietary materials to the wrong recipients was an inadvertant error. Although he would not definitively rule out a protest over the matter, neither did he see any reason to file one.
- As the former director of NASA and Secretary of the Navy, O’Keefe said he’s seen similar events. The government has established procedures to handle such circumstances and the USAF–EADS and as far as he knows, Boeing–followed these procedures meticulously.
- EADS (and presumably Boeing) only last week received another “pile” of questions, called Evaluation Notices, from the Air Force that need to be answered. This is a routine part of the process.
- The USAF said the new contract award date will slip to early next year; O’Keefe said the detailed process, pre-dating the faux pas revealed last week, had already led him to that conclusion.
- The date for the best-final-offer submission has not been set by USAF.
- O’Keefe has no reason to believe, at this time, a split buy will result from the USAF mix-up. A spokesman followed up witth, “There have been a number of acquisition scenarios put forward over the last several years, split buy being one approach that is appealing to some. The bottom line is that acquisition policy is up to the Department of Defense. We’re focused on the current competition and remain confident in our offering.”
We’ll have more from the press conference later this week.
The buzz among the defense writers preceding the conference is that heads are going to roll at USAF over this mix-up.