Thursday, August 07, 2008

Crying Foul 

How often can one condemn a process and still have credibility? It seems forever in government contracting.

Boeing cried foul and won a rebid on the aerial tanker. Now that the Pentagon has re-issued rules for a new bid, it is criticizing the process again. Perhaps Boeing is right, and the Pentagon is trying to force through the original contract. On the other hand, Boeing had better have strong proof of misbehavior or increasingly it will look as if the company is trying to manipulate the bid. Boeing is playing a delicate perception game that requires support from Congressional delegations. So far, it has Congress in its pocket with a "Buy American" strategy. Should Northrop Grumman and EAD lose the bid, the partnership will have a strong case to protest Boeing's interference. It is conceivable the process will start yet again and take years to finish. Meanwhile, the Air Force has a fleet of aging tankers that are past due to be replaced.

It is interesting to observe these contracting wars for the communications strategies they use. On the other hand, one can become cynical quickly -- with good reason.


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