Jul 31 2008

Tanker Recompetition Must Continue Quickly

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) led a group of Alabama lawmakers today in contacting Defense Secretary Robert Gates and urging him not to restructure the U.S. Air Force’s air refueling tanker contract competition beyond the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations. 

“This tanker competition has been delayed time and again at the expense of the warfighter and the taxpayer,” said Shelby.  “As stated in our letter, I hope that Secretary Gates will continue to conduct an objective competition that truly focuses on the best interests of our servicemembers.”

Text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC  20301-1000

Dear Secretary Gates:

Thank you for your leadership and objectivity regarding the KC-X tanker program and commitment to field these urgently needed refueling aircraft to our men and women in uniform as quickly as possible.  The Congress has strongly supported the KC-X program since inception of the competitive procurement over 3 years ago, and we remain committed to ensuring that our military receives the best capability to successfully accomplish their mission.    

Accordingly, we agreed with your public remarks of July 9, 2008, where you emphasized that the decision to reopen the competition “does not represent a return to the first step of a process that has already gone on far too long.”   Consequently, we are hopeful that you will strongly resist any recommendations or demands that the competition be restructured to address matters beyond the particular process defects identified by the Government Accountability Office.  In our view, to do otherwise may very well invite criticism by industry and the Congress as to whether the revised solicitation or evaluation criteria are truly fair and reasonable.
We look forward to your continued leadership concerning this matter, and urge you to proceed with care and diligence to award a contract by year’s end that satisfies our nation’s urgent and compelling need for new air refueling tankers.  

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter.