Thundervision, the Sequel

The Pentagon Inspector General has agreed to reopen its inquiry into the Thunderbirds Airshow Production Services, or TAPS contract—this time with a focus on the “conduct of senior officials” in the Air Force, an IG spokesman confirmed to the Daily Report May 8. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively, wrote to the IG in late April asking for the probe. The IG’s original investigation determined that Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Goldfein had improperly influenced the award of the $50 million TAPS contract to Strategic Message Solutions in 2005. The contract has since been canceled and Goldfein and two other officers received administrative discipline meted out by Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne, and Wynne referred two other officers for discipline within their chains of command. Levin and McCain, in their missive, said the IG’s report of the original investigation “raises serious questions about the role played by other more senior current and former Air Force officials. However, neither the report of the investigation nor the memorandum reaches any findings or recommendations with regard to the conduct of these senior officials.” The two Senators asked the IG to make sure they interviewed anyone with “information pertinent to the case” and take a second look at other generals named in the report “not only as to criminal conduct, but also for possible ethical violations and failures of leadership.” The IG spokesman said there is no time limit on the inquiry; it will be “done when it’s done,” and the IG will report back to Levin, McCain and Wynne. The original probe took two years.