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When it comes to contracts — especially military contracts — taxpayers are entitled to get a good value

July 1, 2008

The Air Force worked around its own requirements in awarding a $35 billion contract for new midair tankers to be used to refuel U.S. military aircraft, the Government Accounting Office says in a report submitted to Congress. Some lawmakers are suggesting that the Pentagon may have to begin the bidding process anew.

At issue is a contract awarded to Northrop Grumman, a U.S. firm, and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. for 179 new tankers. Another U.S. company, Boeing, submitted the losing bid.

But according to the GAO, a variety of irregularities were involved in the process. The watchdog agency's conclusion appears to be that the Air Force set rules for bids - then ignored some of them to award the contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS.

Members of Congress who want to know more about the process are right to insist on answers from the Pentagon.

As Sen. John McCain has noted, taxpayers are entitled to good value for their defense dollars - and men and women in the military deserve the best equipment we can provide them.



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