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Holding the Government Accountable
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Analysis

No More Conflicts for Admiral Blair

As some of you may have heard, Admiral Dennis Blair has stepped down as president from the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). This resignation comes as no surprise given the difficult months he has endured since IDA took part in a Business Case Analysis for the F-22A Raptor Multi-Year Procurement (MYP).

IDA and Admiral Blair came under fire late July amid POGO's investigation that discovered Admiral Blair sat on the Board of Directors of EDO corporation, a subcontractor of the F-22A program. When asked if he took part in the report, Admiral Blair admitted direct involvement in IDA's finding that a MYP contract between the government and Lockheed Martin would save taxpayers approximately a quarter of a billion dollars according to Washington Post. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) flat out disagreed with IDA's findings according to their testimonies before the Armed Services Air Land Subcommittee regarding a MYP of the F-22A. CRS and GAO both agree that the F-22A is not ready for MYP legally and financially. The GAO explains in their testimony that the cost of an MYP of the F-22A could result in a loss of upwards of 1.7 billion dollars due to unreported Air Force termination costs. Yet after a massive lobby effort by Lockheed Martin, the amendment passed. Hopefully the conferees currently reviewing the Defense Authorization Bill will take this into account.

The possible resignation or firing of Admiral Blair highlights a recommendation included in POGO's report entitled "Preying on the Taxpayer, The F-22A Raptor." Our fourth and final recommendation to was to "Apply federal conflict of interest laws to federally funded research and development centers. These organizations are fully funded by the federal government and should be required to meet the same ethics standards as federal agencies." The possibility that Admiral Blair's interactions with EDO corporation tainted the report by IDA and the possibility that there may have been a possible conflict of interest is for the Board of IDA to determine. But this entire issue hopefully could have been avoided if FFRDC's fell under the same conflict of interest rules as federal employees. To require FFRDC's to uphold the same standards as the federal government would benefit every party involved with their work. The government would be ensured that the results of these organizations would not be tainted. Taxpayers would benefit with the knowledge that our lawmakers are conducting their business with information provided by an independent and unbiased organization. And finally, the FFRDC's would maintain the ability to be a resource in which their highly regarded work would never be tainted by situations similar to what IDA is dealing with now.

Stamping out conflicts of interests is a positive step for all.

UPDATE: Thanks to Joe Quimby for pointing out the designation change for the Raptor.