Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Perception Is Reality, or Is It? A Case Study of Four Department of Defense (DoD) Procurement Scandals: Does Media Coverage Lead to Procurement Reform?
by Mothershed, Airon Ann, LL.M., The George Washington University, 2011, 179; 1505937
Abstract (Summary)

Over the past thirty years, American taxpayers have seen multiple Department of Defense (DoD) procurement scandals brought to light. Of these historic scandals, some of the most egregious examples include: the spare parts scandal that emerged in the early to mid-1980s, which introduced the public to the $435 hammer and $600 toilet seat; the Operation Illwind scandal, which exposed a network of corruption in the DoD procurement system; and the Darleen Druyun scandal, which led to a decade-long saga surrounding the replacement of the refueling tanker aircraft. Based upon lessons learned from these past mistakes, Congress and the DoD have reformed the federal procurement system several times in numerous ways. Nevertheless, the current federal procurement system is not perfect. As such, new DoD procurement scandals arise from time to time, and with each new occurrence, Government and DoD officials must again review the process to determine if new reforms are necessary.

One recent procurement scandal has again drawn attention to the procurement process. Identified as the “Contracting With the Enemy” scandal in this thesis, this crisis was revealed in Fall 2009 when a news journalist reported the Taliban and other enemies of the U.S. were being indirectly funded via U.S. taxpayers' dollars through U.S. contracting activities in Afghanistan.

Throughout the history of these DoD procurement scandals, the media has played an important role. All of the historic scandals met the criteria of newsworthy stories. They were current, negative, and related to the Government's spending an exorbitant amount of taxpayers' money. These elements provided continuous fodder and helped journalists maintain public interest in the news stories surrounding the scandals throughout the life of each scandal. As news journalists reported on each scandal, they emphasized the most salacious, human-interest factors of each scandal – these included “greedy” contractors and defense consultants, corrupt high-level procurement officials, and crusading public servants. The current scandal, thus far, seems to be presenting similar elements.

The purpose of this paper is to analyze and determine the correlation between media coverage and procurement reform to determine if such coverage promotes reform. In this endeavor, this thesis will explore the facts, circumstances, and related media coverage surrounding the three historic and one current DoD procurement scandals mentioned above. This paper will briefly discuss the definition of a procurement scandal and the criteria news media use to determine whether to publicize scandals. It will then present three methodologies for analyzing the correlation between media coverage, scandals, and reform. The facts of the three historic scandals will be applied and analyzed to the methodologies to ascertain the correlation between the media coverage and subsequent reform that occurred in those cases. Then, the results and analyses derived from the historic scandals will be applied to the current DoD procurement scandal and used as a tool to predict whether or not reform will occur in the case of the Contracting With the Enemy scandal.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yukins, Christopher R.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Government Procurement Law
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 50/04M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Law
Keywords: Coverage, Media, Procurement, Reform, Scandal
Publication Number: 1505937
ISBN: 978-1-267-15391-3
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