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Jan. 28, 2011—
The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday released the Air Force's independent review and associated documents delving into last November's inadvertent disclosure of KC-X tanker data.

This release coincided with the SASC's hearing to discuss the Pentagon's investigation into the incident. The independent investigators looked into whether the actions of Air Force officials violated procurement law.

Boeing and EADS each were to receive one disc and a cover letter with integrated fleet aerial refueling assessment data on their respective KC-X tanker bids. However, the Air Force mistakenly sent two discs with data on both companies to each, instead.

The investigators concluded that this incorrect disclosure "was not purposeful," and they didn't identify any procedures that the contracting officers did not follow.

But the disclosure could have been avoided if "the people who were responsible for the transfer and were knowledgeable" about the discs were actually "engaged in the physical assembly" of the packages sent out to the companies, wrote the investigators in their 11-page review document (caution, large file).

The investigators recommended a series of steps to avoid similar missteps in the future.

First, they called for the Air Force to send a letter, in addition to the standard service form, with a detailed description of the security or contracting information that is to be transferred.

Second, they recommended that those individuals with knowledge of the contents and the purpose of the transfer should be personally involved in the packaging of the material and the execution of the transfer.

Finally, "given the importance of the KC-X program, we recommend a process be instituted where all transmission of data or information to the offerors, whether classified or not, be verified and executed by two people knowledgeable about the transfer for the duration of the source selection when any information is to be transmitted to an offeror," they wrote.

Air Force officials have maintained that the information disclosed in this incident was not proprietary and that they have been able to uphold the fairness and integrity of the process to select the winning tanker model.

But some members of Congress remain unconvinced as to the potential impact of the error.

Further, some, like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), SASC ranking member, were against the release of the independent review and other related documents at this time before the Air Force announces the KC-X contract award, which is expected sometime in the next month or so.

"I think it’s a bad idea," he said during Thursday's hearing. He continued, "Given all of the controversy, all of the legal challenges, all of the delays for over a decade, why wouldn’t we want to just wait a few weeks before we would release that information?"

Releasing it now, "could cause further disruption to the competition," he warned.

The Defense Department did not object to the public release.

See also related documents:

Air Force contract officer determination
Defense Cyber Crime Center forensics lab report
Boeing CEO certification
EADS NA CEO certification