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Firms Accused of Plot to Double-Bill Air Force

Associated Press

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), citing the results of a new congressional audit, Saturday accused two large defense contractors of plotting to overcharge the Air Force for tools to repair a jet radar system.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, Dingell accused General Dynamics Corp. and Westinghouse Electric Corp. of conspiring to develop and sell new repair tools similar to ones the Air Force had already paid for.

“General Dynamics knew full well that the Air Force had already paid Westinghouse for the development of these tools,” Dingell wrote. “This is not sloppy business practice on the part of General Dynamics--it is fraud. The entire acquisition was clearly double-billed.”

Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations, based his allegations on the results of a General Accounting Office study, which was also released Saturday.

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The report does not accuse either company of criminal acts but asserts that General Dynamics recommended the design, development and production of new repair tools for the F-16 even though “equivalent tools were already in use at Westinghouse.”

“The existing tools had been developed and several sets of the tools had been manufactured by Westinghouse under its radar-manufacturing contract with General Dynamics,” the GAO said.

The GAO listed examples of several tools that were recommended for purchase even though they were not needed, of serious “cost-charging errors” and of “exorbitant” tool prices.

Among other questionable purchases cited was a $163,843 “vacuum-heat maintenance stand.” One year after delivery, it was still in storage “because (the Air Force) had not yet received a technical order showing how to use it.”

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The Pentagon said in a statement that the problems with the tool contract were “first reported in 1983 . . . and several procurements were canceled and other prices were revised downward.”


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