Game Face

Reiterating the stance made Feb. 29 in announcing the Northrop Grumman/EADS team as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition, Air Force acquisition executive Sue Payton said Wednesday that the company’s bid was clearly the best. “Northrop Grumman brought their ‘A game,’ ” Payton told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee in her first public appearance on Capitol Hill since the politically controversial decision. The company’s team, she said, “met or exceeded the requirements of the request for proposals” and “provided the best overall value to the warfighter and every American taxpayer based on the competition evaluation factors.” When members such as panel chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) pressed Payton on whether the Air Force’s evaluation weighed factors important to the lawmakers such as industrial capacity and where the jobs will be created and where the profits from the tanker work will go [i.e., home or abroad], she said, no, because such issues lie outside of the federal acquisition regulations by which she must abide. “I wish I could award to somebody I like [or] to somebody who offers things that I personally like, but according to the law … those things cannot enter into the decisions,” she said. The KC-X decision abides with Buy America provisions passed by Congress, she noted. The Buy America Act gives exemptions to about a dozen countries, Payton said, adding that it says to treat those countries “as the US.” “The countries that have companies that will be engaged in the new KC-45A are all on that exempted list,” she said. So the federal acquisition regulations “are all being followed.”