Pentagon inspector general: No need to block tanker deal

Although significant questions remain about an Air Force plan to acquire 100 air refueling tankers from Boeing Co., there is "no compelling reason" to block the deal, Pentagon Inspector General Joseph Schmitz said Monday.

"The Air Force used inappropriate procurement strategies and did not use best business practices or prudent acquisition procedures to provide sufficient accountability for the expenditure of $23.5 billion," Schmitz said in a 157-page report to be submitted to Congress. He briefed congressional staffers Monday.

One of several ongoing reviews of the controversial project, the report urges that the tanker program be delayed until the problems are resolved. A spokeswoman said late Monday the Air Force had not yet read the report. "We look forward to the recommendations. We are open to ways to improve our acquisition procedures," she said.

The Defense Department has said the Air Force cannot proceed with the contract -- suspended pending an investigation -- until the Pentagon's general counsel, the Defense Science Board and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces complete reviews. Those reviews are expected to continue at least through May, officials said.

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