Update, Dec. 1: George Talbot of The Mobile Press-Register has this interesting interview with Michael Wynne, a former top defense department procurement official, who suggests a solution to the KC-X quandary.
Also, at 12:50pm PST: Bloomberg has this story with Boeing BDS CEO Dennis Muilenberg weighing in. It seems the USAF has more ‘splainin’ to do.
Update, Nov. 30, 8PM PST: The New York Times confirms EADS opened Boeing data, Boeing did not; Boeing threatens protest.
Dominic Gates at The Seattle Times has this report.
In what is a wholly transparent move, Boeing is beginning to lay the groundwork for an appeal in the event EADS wins the KC-X contract.
Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, published a commentary yesterday (we only saw it today) entitled “Tanker flap reflects pattern of bias.” In it he makes several allegations, the most serious of which is that EADS read the proprietary document mistakenly sent by the USAF to EADS about Boeing performance data of the KC-767 but Boeing did not read the EADS document and data sent to Boeing by USAF. Thompson does not disclose how he knows this.
Thompson goes on to provide several examples of what he terms bias on the part of the USAF in favor of EADS, capping with his long-running call for the service to take into account the WTO ruling on Airbus subsidies. (Thompson, paid by Boeing, produced a report on this subject earlier this year.)
Thompson, effectively a Boeing surrogate on all matters KC-X, of course does not list examples of USAF bias toward Boeing as asserted by EADS and the clear record of such bias in the original tanker deal. But that’s neither here nor there.
In response to Thompson’s specific assertions in his commentary, EADS’ spokesman Guy Hicks wrote us this morning, “The moment we recognized that information was sent to us in error we properly secured it and reported to the Air Force. It’s up to the Department of Defense to comment further.”
We pressed Hicks on the Thompson assertion that EADS read the document; we’re waiting for a response.
Says an industry official familiar with the competition, “Loren Thompson is a paid Boeing consultant—regardless of his protests to the contrary. Only one team in the competition provides Lexington any funding and it’s not EADS. He has clearly become the talking head for the Boeing Corporation.”
When we attended a press conference with EADS North America CEO Sean O’Keefe last week, O’Keefe said EADS was confident the USAF mistake was unintended and that procedures, long in place for things of this nature, were properly followed when the mistake was discovered. O’Keefe did not rule out a protest by EADS over the action but last week saw no reason to proceed with one.
Thompson’s Lexington Institute was the subject of a Harper’s magazine profile detailing his close ties to defense contractors. This article may be downloaded here: Harper’s Magazine/Thompson.