Boeing v. Airbus
By Erick Posted in Airbus | Boeing | GAO | National Security | Tankers — Comments (7) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
As you probably know, the Air Force ran afoul of the GAO in the past couple of weeks over its decision to give an air tanker deal to Airbus.
There is a lot of spin on both sides regarding the implications, outcome, etc.
Jed Babbin, who has a great deal of experience in these sorts of matters, sorts it all out.
The government is supposed to buy what it needs, not what it wants. And – in the case of combat systems, among which the tanker is certainly counted – the needs have to be defined by the warfighters. The government’s request for contractor proposals is supposed to define those needs in terms specific enough to enable the contractors to compete by offering the aircraft that best meets the precise need. But the Air Force -- bowing to political pressure -- crafted a specification so vague that two vastly different aircraft could arguably qualify under it.
To make matters worse, in the final stages of the competition, the Air Force cut the warfighters out of the loop and changed what they had said they needed to keep the European Airbus in the running for the contract. That and the other errors it made -- the process issues the GAO used to overturn the decision -- provide the lessons on which the Air Force can get it right in the days ahead.