Sounds Like a Duck

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell offered the view during a press briefing that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will put his full imprint on the Air Force’s tanker program rather than leaving the decision over the next course of action to the Air Force alone. That came as a surprise to some veteran journalists, one of whom tried to get some clarity, asking, “So the decision will come up to him, rather than staying internally within the Air Force?” To which Morrell replied, “This is something the Secretary is going to be involved in.” And, he emphasized, “It’s a procurement issue that’s been going on seven years now, seven years probably too long.” The service has 60 days before it must respond to the Government Accountability Office verdict upholding the Boeing protest. Only last week Morrell stood by the DOD position that USAF had conducted a “fair and transparent” contract award process, one that also received fairly intense scrutiny from DOD acquisition officials. This week, he appended “at this point” to that same declaration of faith and added, “That said, the GAO has identified some areas of concern … and we are going to closely examine the areas of their concern … and see what the best course of action is from here.” (full, redacted version of the GAO tanker decision released June 25; Geoff Morrell tanker comments.)