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Jailed Ex-Official Linked To More Defense Contracts

By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 15, 2005; Page E01

Darleen A. Druyun, the former Air Force procurement official who admitted showing Boeing Co. favoritism on contracts, may have unduly influenced eight other contracts worth about $3 billion, including four awarded to other companies, Pentagon officials said yesterday.

Druyun's admissions last year sparked a review of 407 contracts she dealt with during her nine-year tenure as a top Air Force procurement official. The possible irregularities were referred to the Pentagon's inspector general for further review, the officials said.

The contracting process may have been "sped up, interrupted or unduly influenced" by Druyun, Mike Wynne, the Pentagon's acting acquisition chief, told reporters at a briefing. "It pains me to find any instance where the contracts could have been manipulated for other than the best interest of the taxpayer. There is no best practice or metric that allows for anything other than zero defects in this area."

The Defense Contract Management Agency found that in some of the contracts, Druyun changed the outcome of the award decision or directed someone else to, according to a source briefed on the review. Air Force officials coined the term "DSS: Darleen Says So" as a short response to dismiss questions about Druyun's decisions, said the source, who would speak only on condition of anonymity. In some cases, the cost of the contract increased or the requirements were "watered down" or written after the contract award, the source added.

Druyun is serving a nine-month prison sentence for negotiating a $250,000 job with Boeing, which also hired her daughter and son-in-law, while still overseeing the company's contracts with the Air Force. The inspector general is already investigating seven contracts in which Druyun admitted favoring Boeing.

The newly identified contracts with potential problems include a $561 million contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. to upgrade the C-5 cargo plane, a $42 million contract with Lockheed for F-16 mission training centers, an $82.5 million Accenture contract to develop a financial information system, and a $158 million award to St. Louis-based Systems & Electronics Inc. for ground equipment used to speed the loading of wide-body military jets. Four more Boeing contracts were also referred for further review.

Lockheed spokesman Thomas J. Jurkowsky said the two Lockheed contracts cited yesterday were unrelated to a job offer the company made to Druyun. She accepted a job with Lockheed before reneging to join Boeing.

Lockheed, Accenture, Systems & Electronics and Boeing all said they would cooperate with the new reviews.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who led an investigation of the Druyun scandal, said he plans to hold a hearing on whether the procurement failures are "systematic in nature."

"It would be astonishing if the IG determined serious misconduct in awarding the contracts could have been so freely perpetrated by one individual," he said in a statement.

After Druyun's admissions, the Pentagon also ordered a Defense Science Board review of how it buys weapons, which is expected to be completed next month. The board has already recommended that the Pentagon "emphasize ethics, respect for people and the implementation of best business practices," Wynne said. "I think all of the leadership has to take responsibility for creating an environment that would have allowed Darleen" to manipulate the contracting process.

The Government Accountability Office is expected to rule this week on protests filed by Boeing's competitors after Druyun admitted that her relationship with Boeing tainted her decision to award the company a $4 billion contract to upgrade the electronics on the C-130 transport plane.

The Air Force already has denied two protests filed by Bethesda-based Lockheed on two classified projects that went to Boeing, according to Air Force officials.

Michael M. Sears, Boeing's former chief financial officer, is scheduled to plead guilty Friday to negotiating a job with Druyun while she was still overseeing Boeing's contracts with the Air Force.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company