Druyun Effect Lingers

Although it’s been about six years since the infamous Darleen Druyun was the No. 2 in the Air Force’s acquisition shop, “lingering elements” of her top-heavy leadership style remain today in the Air Force’s acquisition culture and need to be replaced with better alternatives for the service to improve its acquisition processes, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said yesterday. “As amazing as it might sound, I have had members of my team tell me there is still some of the practices and culture that evolved during Darleen Druyun’s tenure that are there,” John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, told defense reporters in Washington, D.C. Young made clear that he was “not in any way suggesting” that anything nefarious is going on within USAF’s acquisition offices—such as the blatant favoritism in contract decisions toward one company for which Druyun was convicted in federal court in 2004. Rather, the issue is about how the Air Force evaluates bids in major weapons competitions. While the Army and Navy have processes in place under which recommendations and value judgments are passed along with data up the chain to the next level in a source-selection process, the Air Force hasn’t been doing that, Young said. Instead, “people became culturally attuned … to evaluate proposals, but not provide judgments and recommendations,” leaving the source-selection authority “to judge all of that information and make a decision and then thoroughly document it.” He continued, “I think we need to change that.” This approach came back to bite the Air Force in its original KC-X tanker competition, which “was not adequately documented,” Young said. The good news is that the Air Force’s new top leadership is “prepared to make” changes to address these issues, Young said, based on his interactions with them. (For more on Young’s views read Transitional Talk.) (For more on Druyun, read Washington Watch in the November 2004 Air Force Magazine.)