Larsen Statement on GAO Decision Regarding the Air Force's Tanker Selection

Jun 18, 2008

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) released the following statement on the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s report out today on the Air Force’s procurement process for the approximately $35 billion tanker program.  Larsen’s congressional district is home to Boeing’s Everett plant, production site for the 767 airframe which Boeing would use to build the next generation of refueling tankers for our military.

“The report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today is a huge victory for Boeing workers, American taxpayers, our nation’s security, and a fair, transparent procurement process.

"When the Air Force announced their decision on February 29, they summed up their selection of the Airbus/EADS tanker in one word: “more”, saying it offered “more passengers, more cargo, more fuel to offload.”  

"If I could sum up this decision in one word it would be “more”. Boeing offered a more cost-effective plane.  The Air Force needed to have more transparency in this decision. And when the Air Force rebids this contract, we need to have a more fair process. 

“The GAO has determined that the Air Force made a number of significant errors in their selection of the Airbus/EADS proposal.  The Air Force failed to adequately evaluate the lower cost and greater capabilities of the Boeing tanker.  They failed to follow their own criteria in evaluating the tankers’ capabilities. And they failed to take into account the higher military construction costs of the Airbus/ EADS proposal.

“We still need to look at the broader implications of the Air Force’s decision, including the damage the Air Force’s selection will do to our defense industrial base and economy and the impact of illegal subsidies on the Airbus/EADS proposal.  American taxpayers should not foot the bill for a product made in clear violation of WTO rules.

“In the coming days, I will work to ensure that the Air Force follow the GAO’s recommendations to provide our men and women in our military with the best refueling tanker for our national security.  I will work to make sure American taxpayers don’t foot the bill for a less capable, more expensive and illegally-subsidized European tanker.  And I will continue to fight for Boeing jobs and the investments that create them.

“I would encourage Members of the House who were waiting for the GAO to read this decision very carefully. I look forward to working with the Air Force and my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to make sure this process is done right the next time.”