Congressional investigators said the Defense Department was right to skip a competitive process for planned updates to B-2 strategic bombers.
Technologies to update the nuclear-capable aircraft were already far along in their development, and Pentagon data reveals little room to save money by soliciting more proposals from companies, universities or agencies, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis issued on Tuesday.
The planned upgrades focus on the airplane’s “defensive management system,” designed to track enemy radar and alert crew members to possible threats, according to the GAO assessment.
The Defense Department informed legislative auditors in December of its intention not to pursue “competitive prototyping” for certain upgrades planned for the B-2 system, the report indicates. A 2009 law requires legislative auditors to scrutinize any Defense Department decision to skip the process, which can sometimes reduce expenses and the likelihood of technical problems, the document indicates.
The findings note that prime contractor Northrop Grumman accepted bids from other firms as it hired subcontractors for the B-2 project.
Developers would make use of “existing, technically mature subsystems” for two of the upgrade project’s three main components, and Northrop Grumman used a competitive prototyping process to develop new antennas for the airplane, authors of the GAO study said.
The Air Force reviewed four “prototyping options” and determined they “would increase the program’s development costs by between $28.2 million and $524.8 million [in base year 2011 dollars] depending on the type and number of prototypes,” the report states.
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."