Senators want IG probe of tanker data mixup

Monday - 1/31/2011, 7:14am EST

WFED's Jared Serbu

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By Jared Serbu
Federal News Radio

Seven senators, most of them from states that host large portions of Boeing's business, have asked for an independent probe into whether the inadvertent release of competitors' data to the U.S. airplane maker and its European rival compromised the Air Force's decade-long process of procuring a new generation of aerial refueling tankers.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), requested the Defense Department's inspector general to determine whether the Air Force's mistaken release of computer modeling data to Boeing and EADS violated the Procurement Integrity Act or Federal Acquisition Regulation rules in a letter sent Thursday. Fellow Washington Senator, Patty Murray, and Kansas Republican Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts also signed on, joined by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y).

The Air Force's investigation found that none of the released information was proprietary and that neither the military nor the vendors violated the Procurement Integrity Act, Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello testified last week at a Senate Armed Services Committee oversight hearing.

Cantwell wrote, however, that DoD "chose the wrong witnesses" to send to the hearing, and that they were "extremely limited in their knowledge."

"EADS now has an unfair competitive advantage to adjust its bid to undercut Boeing," Cantwell said in a statement. "I am calling on the Defense Department Inspector General to do a full review of what exactly happened in and around the data leak, and how it has influenced the competition. With the Air Force expected to announce the tanker competition winner as early as February, I urge the IG to move forward expeditiously in conducting this review. America's taxpayers deserve to have this $35 billion decision done right."

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