Not in the pages of Seattle’s two major dailies, anyway.
When the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decided this spring that Boeing’s appeal of the Air Force award of a tanker contract to a rival had merit, the P-I was so giddy that it published the GAO’s entire press release.
But last week, when the GAO released a report finding that Boeing and other military contractors, along with Pentagon officials, had illegally interfered with government auditors investigating performance and cost of weapons systems — and with the GAO’s investigation of those investigations — and again yesterday, when Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) took to the floor of the Senate calling the report “what could be the biggest auditing scandal in the history of this town,” and calling for “firings by nightfall,” there has not been a word of it in local media.
So you’ll have to read about it here:
Among the findings of the report:
* The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) resident auditor made an agreement with an unnamed aerospace contractor (determined to be Boeing based on the facts contained in the report), one of the five largest government defense contractors, that “limited the scope” of the audit and would allow the contractor to correct problems that were found before the final audit opinion was issued.
* The resident auditor replaced uncooperative auditors and intimidated others into making unsubstantiated assessments that benefited contractors at the expense of the government.
* Supervisors assigned complex auditing tasks to underqualified subordinates, resulting in incomplete audits.
* DCAA officials threatened staff members with retaliation for speaking with GAO investigators.
* The director of a cost-estimating system for a major defense contractor threatened the DCAA he would “escalate” the issue “to the highest level possible” in the government and within the company in question if the DCAA would not green-light the billing system it identified as problematic.
* The DCAA failed to revisit contracts that were negotiated by a corrupt (and later convicted) Air Force official.
* Mistakes, incompetence or intentional deception by the DCAA has essentially built in defective price-estimating systems that may artificially inflate contract estimates for years to come.
McCaskill, on the floor of the Senate yesterday:
I will guarantee you, as auditors around the country learn about this, they’re going to have disbelief and raw anger that this agency has impugned the integrity of government auditors everywhere by these kinds of irresponsible actions…all this time that we have been wasting hundreds of billions of dollars [in Iraq], the fox was in the chicken coop.”
So why is a story about a major government corruption scandal — one that involves our (former) hometown heroes — getting no local coverage? Or, put another way, how is it that when the news is unflattering for the Mariners, local media can be honest about it — but not when the issues are rather more substantive?