Both He and She Said

Boeing and Air Force acquisition chief Sue Payton have a big disagreement—even though they see eye-to-eye on some language. Payton told a House Armed Services Committee hearing April 1 that, in the KC-X tanker contest, it was made “very clear that extra credit would be given to the offeror who exceeded the threshold” of performance, even though “we had no requirement for size, large, or medium.” Mark McGraw, Boeing VP for tankers, agrees, but says that’s not the issue. During a teleconference with reporters April 3, McGraw said USAF told Boeing explicitly that its KC-767 proposal had achieved the threshold requirements in performance (the minimum required) as well as the objective requirements (performance aspects which are “nice to have” but not required). KC-X request for proposals documents said that “no consideration will be provided for exceeding (key performance parameter) objectives.” Yet McGraw said USAF’s evaluation deviated from this. At the last meeting with the Air Force before the contract award to rival Northrop Grumman, he said he purposely sought clarification on this point. “I said, ‘We’ve gotten the maximum we can. You can’t get any more credit for above the objective, right?” The answer that came back, he said, was “Right, there is no credit for exceeding an objective.” But looking at the award, “whether it’s fuel load … [or] aeromed, they gave credit to the competitor for going over the objective in several areas. And that is one of the key points of our protest,” McGraw said. He also charged that Northrop’s airplane shouldn’t have gotten as much credit as it did for cargo-carrying ability, since its floor is not up to full cargo-carrying specs, while Boeing’s KC-767 is so equipped.