Pentagon takes over major Air Force buys

Michael Wynne, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, has temporarily taken over 21 major Air Force acquisitions.

The buys have a combined value of more than $200 billion and include the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, Joint Primary Aircraft Training System, Navstar Global Positioning System and Transformational Communications Satellite program.

Previously, the projects were designated as acquisition category 1C, meaning the Air Force's acquisition chief had authority to approve actions. In an announcement today, the Defense Department said it has redesignated them as 1D buys, requiring the undersecretary's approval.

"This action is not a punitive one, rather it is meant to assist the Air Force by overseeing and providing advice on important Air Force programs during a time of transition," Wynne said in a statement. The service has no permanent secretary or acquisition chief.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said the move is not connected to procurement problems that have arisen in programs overseen by former Air Force acquisition manager Darleen Druyun.

Druyun was convicted last year of conspiring with Boeing Co.'s chief financial officer to help the company win a multibillion-dollar airplane-leasing contract. She is the former principal deputy assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition and management who later became a vice president at Boeing. At her sentencing, Druyun said she had given the company preferential treatment for years while she worked for the Air Force.

In his statement, Wynne said there is no set time frame for the temporary shift in acquisition authority. He has asked the Air Force to provide within 15 days a list for each program that details all significant program and milestone decisions expected over the next six months.

Of the 21 contracts, Lockheed Martin Corp. is the prime contractor on six; Raytheon Co. is the prime for four; Northrop Grumman Corp. is the prime on four; Boeing Co. is the prime on four; and Lockheed Martin and Boeing share prime contracting responsibilities on three.

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