Pennsylvania Logo

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Halvonik 717 787-1381

Auditor General Jack Wagner Again Urges Secretary of Defense Gates to Award Tanker Contract to American Company

HARRISBURG, (June 30, 2008) – Auditor General Jack Wagner has sent a second letter to Robert M. Gates, calling on the U.S. Secretary of Defense to award a $35 billion Air Force contract for building 179 airborne fuel tankers to the Boeing Co.

Wagner made the request after a recent finding by Government Accountability Office auditors that Air Force officials had unfairly evaluated Boeing’s bid when they awarded the contract to the European Aeronautics Defense and Space Co. in February.

"I believe this vitally important contract is a matter of national security," Wagner said in a letter to Gates mailed Thursday. "I am firmly opposed to farming out any aspect of our national defense to foreign companies. Where would we have been after Pearl Harbor if the construction of our battleships had been placed in the hands of non-American suppliers?"

Wagner added: "As Pennsylvania’s auditor general, I believe that awarding the contract to Boeing makes good economic sense. Boeing's KC-767 would be built entirely in the United States, supporting 44,000 jobs and 300 suppliers in more than 40 states.

"We owe it to hardworking American taxpayers to keep the jobs, manufacturing, construction, and economic activity here in the United States."

Wagner had previously sent a letter to the Department of Defense in February in support of Boeing’s bid. In that letter, Wagner noted that in terms of performance, Boeing’s KC-767 tanker is lighter and more flexible than EADS’ KC-30. The KC-767 can take off and land at more airfields and runways. Fueling the tanker will cost approximately $1 million less per plane, per year. Most importantly, the current fleet of Boeing KC-135s has provided more than 40 years of quality and enduring service to our country.

Wagner is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam. His combat service earned him several medals including the Purple Heart. He serves on the board of the Veterans Leadership Program. He also belongs to the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans Institute, and Veterans Political Action Committee.

Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits, and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts approximately 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.

###