You’re Trusting Them with WHAT?!?
In April 2005, L-3 Communicatons subsidiary Interstate Electronics Corp. in Anaheim, CA was placed under criminal investigation for providing faulty parts to the CSEL search and rescue GPS/ beacon/ communicators used by US aviators, special forces teams, et. al. – and concealing test failures.
So, naturally, they’ve just been awarded a contract to support the test instrumentation hardware for most of America’s nuclear missile fleet, and all of Britain’s.
The $27.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee contract covers the TRIDENT II FBM Test Instrumentation hardware systems including M345/LASS, M240/M240R, and M250 systems. Services will include program management, system engineering support, liaison engineering, training, documentation, manufacturing support, logistics, contract inventory services, and field services to ensure data capture rate, availability and accuracy.
In addition the contractor shall provide the UK Trident II fleet with level-of-effort support, repairs and replenishment, and SPALTs (Strategic Systems Programs alternations).
Work will be performed in Anaheim, CA and is expected to be complete by September 2006. This contract was not competitively procured. The US Navy’s Strategic Systems Program in Washington, DC issued the contract (N00030-06-C-0001).
Paying Interstate Electronics Corp. to certify and ensure test equipment seems like some kind of cruel joke, given the nature of the alleged misconduct in the CSEL program. Nevertheless, this contract award may not be quite as insane as it first appears. Interstate has been involved with the U.S. Navy’s submarine launched ballistic missile program for almost 50 years, including the Trident missile. Critical test instrumentation and missile tracking systems have been their primary focus, and it’s possible that their history, experience and capabilities place them beyond all competitors in this area. The firm had also received similar contracts on Dec 20, 2004 and Dec 22, 2003, but a DefenseLINK search also shows that L-3 Interstate Electronics Corp. has received no DoD reported contracts since the CSEL investigation began.
Even so, the nature of this contract award means that the stakes, and the level of probity and reliability one has a right to expect, could not be higher. DID has been unable to find any indication that the CSEL program investigation was resolved in a satisfactory way, or that Interstate had implemented sufficient changes to assure the public that the events in question could not happen again.