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More on BAE Systems

Just a followup on the BAE Systems situation, which I didn’t get around to blogging about last week. I see that in addition to everything else he’s got going on, Mayor White will be trying to save BAE’s contract, along with Sen. Hutchison and Rep. Mike McCaul, whose electoral prospects may hinge to some degree on the outcome. Maybe not too much, since apparently the Mayor of Sealy is firmly in his corner, but I feel pretty confident that the issue will arise during the campaign. I don’t know how much stock to put in the claims that are being made by the various elected officials that there’s something amiss with the bidding process, but this continues to puzzle me:

In response to public information requests from the Lone Star Project, a Democratic advocacy effort, Pentagon officials said they received no written communication from McCaul’s office about the Sealy operation for more than four years leading up to their decision.

“The fundamental job of a member of Congress, particularly a junior member of Congress, is to pay attention to the needs of their district, to be aware when federal contracts are available or at risk,” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project.

McCaul said, “My office has been in regular contact with BAE Systems prior to and during the rebid process and been fully supportive of their efforts to retain the contract, which at no time was thought to be in danger until the Army’s unexpected and dubious decision to award it to Oshkosh.”

No written communication? Not so much as an email? That’s pretty strange. Did anyone take notes from the phone conversations they had, or minutes at the meetings?

I’ll ask again: How is it that nobody – not McCaul, not KBH, not John Cornyn – had any idea this was going down? Do they not have any sources inside the Army that could have tipped them to the fact that their guy’s bid wasn’t measuring up? Is the security of the process that good? McCaul’s statement here seems in conflict with this:

BAE employees expressed concern to McCaul aides around late 2007 that the Army was seeking bids for the production of the trucks made in Sealy. Many of the trucks had already been made, and they found it unusual that the Army would seek bids for the rest of those trucks. McCaul’s office relayed that concern to the Army.

In response, Army officials praised BAE’s work but said they would move forward with their plan to seek competitive bids, McCaul spokesman Mike Rosen said.

Surely BAE must have had a reason to be worried beyond the obvious fact that having a competitor means the possibility of losing. What was McCaul doing between then and September when the contract was officially awarded? Maybe he was working at it, and maybe there was nothing he could have done. I just have a hard time understanding how this could have caught people like McCaul off guard.

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