Darleen Druyun has apparently agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy in the FUBAR Boeing 767 Tanker deal. She used to be in the Air Force, with procurement. After helping cement the controversial deal, she retired and went on to a cushy Boeing job. Then, after all sorts of allegations of unethical behavior at Boeing began to become public, they fired her ass.
“The signal, if she pleads guilty to conspiracy, is that she is admitting that other people were involved, and that she is cooperating,” said Jill E. Fisch, a professor of corporate and securities law at Fordham University. A plea would indicate “she is going to identify the other people who were involved,” Fisch said.
A guilty plea from Druyun would boost critics of the deal, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has complained that the Air Force and Boeing developed an inappropriately friendly relationship during the negotiations. McCain pointed to Druyun’s job at Boeing as proof. Before joining Boeing, Druyun served as the Air Force’s chief negotiator on the deal to lease, then buy, Boeing 767 refueling tankers.
In the wake of the dismissals of Druyun and Sears, the Pentagon ordered an Inspector General’s audit of the deal. The results, released last week, found no compelling reason not to proceed with the program but criticized how the Air Force negotiated the deal and recommended several changes. The procurement strategy the Air Force pursued put the Pentagon “at high risk for paying excessive prices and profits and precludes good fiduciary responsibility for DOD funds,” the report said.
We probably need the tankers. If not now, at some point. The 767 probably makes a good choice for the basis of a new tanker aircraft. I’ve never argued against the tankers, though I have questioned the immediate need.
For many months, though, it seemed completely clear that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. While I’m glad that this deal was finally halted and investigated, why did it take so long?