What Do You Get the Armed Service That Has Everything?
Four and a half years ago, I wrote about a shady deal that had been cooked up by Boeing to lease new aerial refueling tanker aircraft to the Air Force on a no-bid contract — at a higher cost than it would take to just buy them.
Well, that deal eventually came under Congressional scrutiny (led, to his credit, by Senator John McCain), which uncovered the biggest Department of Defense corruption scandal in decades as it was revealed that a top DoD official in charge of buying new weapons was deep in Boeing’s pocket while working for the Air Force, and then had left the Air Force and been hired by Boeing after steering multiple huge contracts (including the tanker deal) their way. The scandal led to a bloodbath at Boeing as the aviation giant fired the former Air Force official, along with their CFO, who had hired her. And shortly after the scandal broke, Boeing’s CEO stepped down as well — partly for overseeing the tanker fiasco, partly for other bad decisions that had driven the company’s stock into the toilet.
Eventually the Air Force went back to the drawing board, choosing to buy the planes rather than lease them, and opening the contract up to alternate bidders. And last week it was announced that the contract had been awarded to Europe’s EADS/Airbus Industrie, beating out Boeing’s revised bid to sell modified 767s.
Predictably, the decision to give the contract to a European company has resulted in a ton of criticism. But I’m not posting this because of that criticism. I’m posting this for two reasons instead.
First, it’s good to see the Air Force recover from the ginormous rent-a-tanker scandal and instead get its tankers the sensible way — by buying them — and by choosing from multiple competing bids instead of going with sweetheart no-bid contracts.
Second, I saw this Google ad in the sidebar of the story on CNN announcing that EADS had won the contract:
Check out that first listing. I don’t know who Shopzilla.com is, but apparently if you’re in the market for a 767, they’ve got ’em — and at a “bargain price”! Perhaps the Air Force should have called them when they issued the RFP…