Pentagon's inspector general subpoenas Pratt & Whitney

David Cadden

The Pentagon inspector general has subpoenaed Pratt & Whitney, claiming it has repeatedly refused to document more than $1.54 billion in maintenance work on C-17 aircraft engines, according to media reports.

"This appears to be one more interesting case of the government and its military contractor engaging in a 'he said, she said,'" said David Cadden, professor emeritus of entrepreneurship and strategy in the School of Business. "The C-17 strategic aircraft project, currently managed by Boeing, appears to be coming to the end of its productive life, barring a few last-minute overseas orders. The aircraft has decades of useful life ahead of it. Therefore, engine maintenance is an extraordinarily important contract. 

"The Air Force is complaining that Pratt & Whitney has been supplied the appropriate documentation to assure that it is being correctly charged," Cadden said. "Pratt & Whitney is arguing that, as with any extraordinarily complex manufacturing process, there are several different ways to determine accounting charges. It appears that there is a lack of commonality between the Air Force and the requested data and accounting system used by Pratt & Whitney. It's surprising that as a commonly agreed upon standard, it was not determined at the beginning of the contract, or perhaps one of the two parties decided to change standards somewhere during the life of the contract. The moral of this lesson is that there may be an even greater need for legally binding language at the beginning of the contract. Given the tremendous size of such contracts and the corresponding requisite legal paperwork, not having such legally binding language is almost unbelievable."

To speak to Cadden, please call John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations, at 203-206-4449.


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