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England Says DoD Actions Must Be 'Above Reproach'

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2005 – Emphasizing that the Defense Department has "very high ethical standards," acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he expects everyone in DoD to act legally and ethically with every action they deal with.

England appeared before the committee today along with other high-ranking defense officials to provide testimony about the DoD Inspector General's Management Accountability Review of the Boeing KC-767A Tanker Program. A 2004 inspector general audit said the Air Force used inappropriate procurement strategy, and did not use best business practices or prudent acquisition procedures to provide sufficient accountability for expenditures for the tanker program.

The audit report suggested that DoD should not proceed with the tanker program until it resolved the issues pertaining to the procurement strategy, acquisition procedures and statutory requirements.

On June 1, DoD announced that the DoD inspector general had completed an extensive and detailed review of personnel involved in the tanker program. The report recommended changes and revisions in acquisition, leasing, procurement and management procedures and policies.

England appeared before the committee to tell its members that DoD is implementing "many recommendations for corrective action and for better checks and balances in acquisition have been assembled and proposed," according to his prepared testimony.

With him on Capitol Hill were Michael W. Wynne, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; Michael L. Dominguez, acting secretary of the Air Force; Gen. John P. Jumper, chief of staff of the Air Force; Joseph E. Schmitz, DoD inspector general; and Thomas F. Gimble, DoD deputy inspector general.

"Ethical leadership is especially critical in the Department of Defense because trust and confidence define the strength of the link between a nation and her citizens and her military," England said in prepared statement. "While legal adherence is always necessary, ethical behavior is absolutely essential. Actions by the Department of Defense must always be above reproach and, as this committee has properly emphasized, when individuals do not meet the standards expected by the American people, they need to be held accountable."

He said it's vitally important for DoD to have effective processes with appropriate checks and balances to ensure that America's war fighters receive the equipment they need and when they need it. And, England noted, DoD must at all times provide transparency and the greatest value possible for every single taxpayer dollar spent.

"We owe that to our troops who serve us so bravely, and we owe it to the American people who have entrusted us with this important task and who support us so generously," he continued.

England said multiple organizations and interested groups, including the Office of the Inspector General, Defense Science Board, Defense Acquisition University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Government Accountability Office, studies internal to the Department of Defense and others have applied their expertise, talents and energies in evaluating the tanker recapitalization issue.

"As a result of these recommendations, many changes have already been instituted within the Department of Defense," according to his statement. He outlined the three-pronged approach DoD has initiated:

Restore primacy of the acquisition process through cancellation of the Leasing Panel, mandate conformance to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation and 5000 Series and implementation of the Defense Acquisition Guidebook;

Strengthen internal controls to assure conformity to the approved process; and

Restore primacy of integrity in acquisition.

England cited changes to existing documents, such as regulations and guidelines. "The entire acquisition structure within the Department of Defense needs to be re-examined in great detail," his statement read. "In my judgment, no single proposal that I am aware of - no tweak, no silver bullet - should substitute for a comprehensive, end-to-end review and analysis of this extremely complex acquisition system. In order to meet our dual responsibilities of providing our fighting men and women with the very best they require and satisfying our charge as trusted stewards of the taxpayer, we can do no less."

DoD recently incorporated many individual corrective actions in its acquisition processes, England said, but added that, "the final answer to past problems may lie in a complete restructuring of the way the Department accomplishes acquisition for all of its goods and services.

England offered his commitment "to manage the department ethically and above reproach, to be forthright, honest and direct with everyone and in every circumstance and to expect the same from every DoD employee."

"I will work closely with you to restore and retain confidence, effectiveness and efficiency in the DoD acquisition process," his prepared testimony concluded.

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