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  • Notable Anniversary: Druyun's Guilty Plea
    Posted by Amy Butler 8:54 PM on Apr 20, 2010

    It was six years ago today that Darleen Druyun, a former procurement executive in the Air Force, plead guilty to illegal job talks with Boeing and showing bias to the company in exchange for a $250,000/year vice president job and employment for her daughter and future son-in-law.

    She later served nine months in jail, had a $5,000 fine, served 150 hours of community service and had seven months of community confinement after release.

    Former Boeing CFO Michael Sears was the only official at the company to go down as a result of the malfeasance. He served four months in jail, paid a $250,000 fine and 200 hours of community service.

    But, six years later, the Air Force is still struggling with a recovery. The once so-called Dragonlady started a fire that the Air Force has yet to put out.

    blog post photo
    Druyun's former USAF bio pic

    Her management style is described by the Government Accountability Office as "forceful." But, multiple sources (even those with stars on their shoulders and firsthand accounts) note that generals routinely quaked in their boots at a look from her through her characteristic thick glasses. She was also a notorious emasculator of industry execs.

    But despite the Air Force's attempts to put the Druyun affair behind them, her legacy lingers. Several deals that she steered -- or tried to steer -- to Boeing still remain uncontracted and, more importantly, undelivered.

    The most infamous is the KC-X. Druyun was at the heart of early talks for a high-cost deal to lease 767s for tankers from Boeing that sparked the ire of Sen. John McCain, who single-handedly dismantled the corrupt plan.

    Today, on this notable anniversary, EADS North America announced it will propose its own prime contractor bid to build 179 KC-135 replacements. It will again compete against a Boeing 767 design. This is after the company won in 2008 under the wing of prime contractor Northrop Grumman. That contract, however, is being terminated after procurement missteps were found pursuant to a Boeing protest. Long story short -- USAF doesn't have a single new tanker. It does have money invested in a 767 demonstrator from the lease days. And, it owns part of an A330 from its first payment in the 2008 contract prior to termination. But, not a single NEW tanker.

    Next, there is SDB, the 250-lb GPS-guided Small Diameter Bomb. Losing bidder Lockheed Martin protested Boeing's win of the SDB after Druyun's "indebtedness" to Boeing over its job offer to her came to light. And she admitted to steering this contract to Boeing. GAO found that Druyun had manipulated the source selection by deleting more challenging moving target requirements that were largely believed to favor Lockheed Martin's proposal.

    Boeing's work on SDB I designed for fixed targets was already under way. But, GAO recommended a new competition for SDB II, the complex weapon that will kill moving targets in all types of weather using a sophisticated trimode seeker. The defense industrial complex being an incestuous group, Boeing and Lockheed Martin have jumped into bed together on a bid that is largely favored over that from underdog Raytheon. A downselect is expected at the end of the month.

    Finally, there is C-130 AMP. Again, Lockheed Martin (in this case the original equipment manufacturer for the massive family of C-130 aircraft) lost to Boeing. And, so did BAE and L-3 Communications. After Druyun's guilty plea, all three piled on with a protest. And, this program is even less far along now than SDB II.

    GAO found that Druyun served as the lead procurement official over this competition and presided in what GAO called "a forceful management style" over a meeting in 2000 later dubbed the Sept. 15 massacre. During this and subsequent meetings, Druyun etched away evaluation ratings to favor Boeing. Eventually, Boeing won.

    Because about three years of work was already done on the design, the Air Force opted to allow Boeing to continue. The catch was that a competition would be conducted in Fiscal 2009 to build and install the design onto the C-130 fleet. Originally envisioned as a major standardized avionics upgrade for more than 500 C-130s,  the program has now atrophied into a plan for only 221 aircraft. The program has suffered major delays and a Nunn McCurdy cost overrun. Upon seeing the problems, the special operations community, which needed the upgrade for its C-130 fleet, ran screaming and is pursuing its own solution.

    Fast forward to now, and the Air Force has tried to kill or cut back the program on multiple occasions. Testing of the Boeing solution has been complete, but plans for a competition aren't yet solid. So, like tanker and SDB II, no new units are fielded.

    The GAO published a concise review of these major issues in a 2005 report.

    Tags: ar99 druyun usaf tanker boeing

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