The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Competitor, watchdog group question contracting official's new job after awarding new contract

  • Print

MCLEAN, Va. - SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and a watchdog group are questioning whether a former senior Air Force contracting official acted inappropriately by taking an executive position with a private contractor just months after awarding a multibillion-dollar rocket-launch contract that greatly benefits his new employer.

Musk, citing an article by the Washington-based National Legal and Policy Center, suggested Thursday night on Twitter that the Pentagon inspector general should investigate the actions of former Air Force civilian Roger "Scott" Correll. Earlier this year, Correll retired from his post as the Air Force's program executive officer for space launch, where he wielded enormous influence in awarding a multibillion-dollar contract for 36 rocket launches over the next several years, shooting sensitive national security equipment into space.

The contract went to a company called United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of the nation's two biggest weapons contractors — Chicago-based Boeing and Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. Earlier this month, Correll took a job as vice-president of government acquisition and policy with Aerojet Rocketdyne, the company that supplies the rocket engines used by ULA.

"Something here smells," said Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center. "There are a lot of unanswered questions, and the sums of money involved are so enormous that taxpayers are entitled to some answers."

The exact value of the launch contract is not clear. But court records indicate it is the fourth-largest program in the entire defence budget, and that costs for an individual rocket launch easily exceed $100 million.

Glenn Mahone, a spokesman for Aerojet Rocketdyne, said the allegations surrounding Correll's hiring are "completely without merit." He said Correll began working at Aerojet only a week or two ago — well after the contract had been awarded — and that his hiring was vetted and cleared by the Air Force.

"We are confident in the process we followed in hiring Mr. Correll," Mahone said.

Correll did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.

An Air Force spokesman declined comment Friday, citing ongoing litigation over the contract.

SpaceX, which has been pursuing Air Force certification to compete on rocket launch contracts, filed a court challenge last month seeking to nullify the contract. Earlier this week, SpaceX amended its complaint to include the allegations surrounding Correll's involvement.

In a series of tweets Thursday night, Musk said the case "certainly deserves close examination by the (Department of Defence) Inspector General," which conducts internal investigations.

Musk, a billionaire who founded the PayPal mobile payment service and is also CEO of electric carmaker Tesla Motors, said via Twitter that Correll "first tried to work at SpaceX, but we turned him down. Our competitor, it seems, did not."

ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said in an emailed statement that ULA is the only company certified to provide the launch services sought by the Air Force and was rightfully awarded the contract.

SpaceX acknowledges that is not currently certified, but said it has met all the necessary requirements and expects to be formally certified later this year. The company said it is unfair to award a contract so large, that runs for so long, just before it was certified to compete for the work.

The contract "defers meaningful free competition for years to come, costing taxpayers billions of dollars more," SpaceX says in its suit before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Carolyn Kavanagh(10) had this large dragonfly land on her while spending time at Winnetka Lake, Ontario. photo by Andrea Kavanagh (mom0 show us your summer winnipeg free press
  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the city grant mosquito buffer zones for medical reasons only?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google