More Air Force contracts under scrutiny in procurement scandal

By George Cahlink

February 14, 2005

The Defense Department announced Monday it is investigating eight additional Air Force contracts worth about $3 billion that may have been improperly manipulated by the service's former top career acquisition official, Darleen Druyun.

The eight new contracts range in value from $42 million to $1.5 billion, and at least half of them were awarded to Boeing. The work covered under the contracts included consulting as well as depot maintenance.

Druyun, the principal deputy assistant secretary for Air Force acquisition and management from 1993 to 2002, is serving a nine-month sentence in federal prison in Florida for favoring Boeing in contract talks in exchange for a future job for herself, her daughter and her son-in-law.

Previously, the Air Force had identified seven contracts that were suspicious, including several acknowledged by Druyun in her sentencing agreement. Those still are being reviewed by the Pentagon inspector general and the Government Accountability Office.

The new contracts turned up after the Defense Contract Management Agency spent the past few months reviewing 407 contracts Druyun had managed during her tenure at the Pentagon.

Michael Wynne, acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters on Monday it's not certain that the contracts were tainted, but he said they were managed and awarded in a manner "outside the normal acquisition process." Wynne said the contracts had been sent to the Defense IG for further investigation.

Wynne added that the investigation found no other Air Force officials were involved with illegally or improperly influencing contracts. The Defense Science Board is completing a review for release next month that will examine whether proper checks and balances exist in the current Pentagon acquisition system, he added.

Boeing's former chief financial officer, Michael Sears, has pleaded guilty to illegal job negotiations with Druyun and could be sentenced to up to six months in prison at a hearing later this week. No other Boeing officials have been charged.

The new contracts under investigation are:

By George Cahlink

February 14, 2005