SECAF receives DOD/IG investigation report|
4/17/2008 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne took administrative action on three members, including a general officer, and referred action for two others to their chain of command, for their roles in the Thunderbird Air Show Production Services contract. The decision follows the completion of a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation requested by Secretary Wynne in February 2006.
In December 2005, the contracting office at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., awarded a $50 million contract to Strategic Message Solutions, or SMS, to provide a multimedia presentation for Air Force Thunderbirds air demonstrations.
An Air Force review of the source selection in January 2006 identified flaws in the process. As a result, the Air Force terminated the contract with SMS. The DOD IG investigation, conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, found the contract was tainted with improper influence, irregular contracting practices and preferential treatment for SMS. The Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Nevada, declined prosecution due to insufficient evidence. The investigation looked at Airmen who were associated with the contract award, but also examined the involvement of others across the Air Force.
"As the report reflects, in late 2005 there was an unfortunate breakdown in acquisition processes at the operational level," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. "I take great pride in the fact that our Airmen have tremendous initiative and motivation. Together, they create a powerful 'can do' culture. While this 'can do' attitude has produced some of our greatest achievements, it requires care in communication from leaders at all levels. In the case of improving the Thunderbirds' shows -- with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight -- it is clear that some Airmen did not follow established procedures in their efforts to make things happen.
"This event has been a reminder that we must always be cognizant of how rank, position and expressed interest may influence the actions of Airmen within our command," General Moseley added. "We must be fully aware of how we present information and make suggestions to subordinates so that we guard against even the perception of improper influence. To that end, the secretary and I sent a letter to Air Force leaders in the field emphasizing that exact point."
When Secretary Wynne was confirmed on Nov. 3, 2005, he made a pledge to Airmen and the American public to uphold the Air Force core values in every aspect of the mission. In his first "Letter to Airmen," he challenged the Total Force to "foster mutual respect and integrity," as every Airman is "accountable to this standard."
"The core values are clear. Airmen hear them, study them, recite them and know them," Secretary Wynne said. "From zero stripes to four stars, living 'integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do' every moment of every day is a challenge. It is also the Air Force's charter. Our values, first and foremost, encompass integrity. We must always have the moral and intellectual courage to do the right thing and continue to follow our moral compass in the decisions we make and actions we take.
"I am deeply disappointed that our high standards were not adhered to in this case. This is not how the Air Force does business and we are taking steps to ensure this doesn't happen again," the secretary said.
The investigation indicated responsibility for the flawed procurement rested with five Air Force members who participated in the source selection process. Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Goldfein, who was commander of the Air Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base at the time the contract was awarded, was one of the members determined to bear some responsibility for the flawed procurement.
Secretary Wynne also directed a thorough review of contracting processes at the operational level, and institution of a robust training program targeted to correct issues raised by this investigation.
"We expect the highest standards of conduct from all of our Airmen, regardless of rank," Secretary Wynne said.
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