Air Force Kicks Out Senior Official For Undisclosed Ties To Defense Contractor

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The U.S. Air Force just removed a senior official responsible for weapons acquisition following revelations that he did not disclose ties to defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

Richard W. Lombardi, who has served as principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition since May 2014, did not tell the service in advance of taking his position that his wife had close ties to Northrop, The Washington Post reports. Those ties consisted of a Northrop retirement account held by his wife, which he failed to report in his financial disclosure form.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James confirmed that an inspector general investigation was underway and told Congress Thursday evening that the removal had taken place on Feb. 4. James reportedly learned of Lombardi’s failure Feb. 3.

In the coming days, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is set to release a decision on a formal protest filed by both Boeing and Lockheed Martin regarding whether the Air Force’s $80 billion contract with Northrop on the Long Range Strike Bomber program is legitimate. Boeing and Lockheed both had a joint bid for the project and lost out.

James hopes that the Long Range Strike Bomber program will continue ahead without running into any serious problems, especially because Lombardi was not involved in the Northrop selection process.

“Mr. Lombardi was not a member of the LRS-B source selection team, and was not serving as the service acquisition executive during that contract award process,” Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Karns said, according to Defense News. “As soon as this became known it was referred to the IG and he was reassigned to duties outside the acquisition portfolio.”

A GAO spokesman told Bloomberg that Lombardi’s removal will have no influence on their decision regarding the formal protest.

What will happen to Lombardi is unclear. He has since been reassigned while the inspector general conducts an in-depth investigation into his conduct.

In his stead, the Air Force picked Darlene Costello for the post.

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