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The "I" Doesn't Stand for "Independent"

Today POGO released "Preying on the Taxpayer: The F-22A Raptor," a report that details the history of the troubled F-22A project and focuses on whether the F-22A meets the requirements for multiyear procurement  (MYP).  The report also highlights Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) President Admiral Dennis C. Blair's financial conflict of interest with the F-22 project and IDA's "F-22 Multiyear Procurement Business Case Analysis" that found that the F-22A program met all of the MYP criteria. 

Admiral Blair told the Washington Post that despite his significant financial interest (31,787 shares and stock options; see Appendix E of the report) as the director of EDO, a subcontractor for the F-22, he did not recuse himself from preparing the report.   In an e-mail from IDA Human Resources, POGO was told that "Due to the nature of our work at the Institute for Defense Analyses, we are unable to provide information about conflict of interest policies or forms."  Blair told the Post that IDA does not have a conflict of interest policy for its officers, but merely "evaluate each one as it comes."

This morning POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian spoke before the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee on the F-22A Multiyear Procurement Proposal.  Several senators and witnesses for the hearing expressed confusion and concern over the report of Blair's financial holdings while simultaneously heading what most assume to be an independent think tank.  "This is extremely, extremely disturbing," said Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner.

After the independence of IDA came into question during hearing, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) questioned other independent research officials as to who it was they worked for.  GAO Comproller General David Walker said that GAO works for Congress and not for the Executive Branch.  Chambliss criticized the GAO for not bringing its concerns forward to the Air Force when they saw a conflict in their analysis and IDA's conclusions.   Senator John McCain (R-AZ) also questioned how independent IDA's analysis could possibly be when they consulted Air Force and Pentagon officials for the report. Towards the end of the hearing, Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) stated he would like to work together with POGO to develop conflict of interest legislation for Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and other government contractors. 

Congress Daily (no link available without subscription) reported that Warner plans to make the multiyear contract a subject for conference negotiations over the competing authorizations.  "One important voice hasn't spoken yet and that's the conference and the conference chairman," said Warner, referring to himself.

POGO recommended that Congress remove the language authorizing the MYP until the F-22A program meets MYP requirements and that Congress consider applying conflict of interest rules to FFRDCs.

By: Mandy Smithberger
investigator, POGO

At the time of publication, Mandy Smithberger was an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight, focusing on Department of the Interior oversight, including oil and gas royalties. Mandy also covered national security.

Authors: Mandy Smithberger

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