The Rise And Fall of A Maverick

February 1, 2004

During her 30-year federal career, Darleen Druyun charted a course that made her one of the most influential acquisition executives in government. Her career was characterized by an aggressive, risk-taking approach to managing a series of complex, controversial, multibillion-dollar deals.


Druyun begins her federal career as a GS-5 contracting intern at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia after attending college in Hawaii.


Leaves the Air Force for a stint with the Office of Management and Budget, where she works on federal contracting issues.


Works at NASA as head of procurement and chief of staff to Administrator Dan Goldin. Druyun becomes a key architect of the agency's "better, faster, cheaper" acquisition strategy.


Named the Air Force's principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and management, where she oversees some of the nation's most lucrative weapons deals.


Druyun is investigated and eventually cleared for her role in an Air Force plan to accelerate a series of payments on the C-17 airlifter program to ailing contractor McDonnell Douglas.


Kicks off a series of acquisition reform initiatives known as "lightning bolts." The reforms are most successful in the speedy development of the Air Force's all-weather bomb, the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

Late 1990s

The Air Force explores leasing commercial planes from Boeing as tankers. Druyun later will come under fire for backing the plan, involving 100 Boeing 767 aircraft.


Druyun signs off on the largest public-private partnership ($10.1 billion) in Air Force history, involving Lockheed Martin and the service's Oklahoma City repair depot.


Oversees the awarding of the Pentagon's biggest contract ever, a $200 billion deal with Lockheed Martin to build the Joint Strike Fighter.


Retires from the Air Force and accepts a job managing missile defense programs at Boeing. Credited with saving the Air Force $20 billion over the course of her career.


Fired by Boeing amid charges that she negotiated to get her job with the defense giant while still managing the company's contracts at the Pentagon.

February 1, 2004