Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Nevada. I wish to spend just a few minutes. I am not going to talk for a long period of time, and I will yield back my time.

I am extremely concerned with the nomination of Mr. Lynn. It has nothing to do with Mr. Lynn. Some can be critical of his time as Comptroller. Some can be critical of some of the lack of forthrightness in some of the answers about the accounting and controlling and auditing systems in the Pentagon, and I think that is rightly so. We had several hearings on IT improvements and waste in the contracting of IT through the Pentagon. We had several hearings in the last two Congresses about the waste in contracting. Mr. Lynn dealt with a large amount of that.

Let that be as it may. The reason I stand to speak against his nomination is this is a nomination that is going to be the person who runs the day-to-day operation of the Pentagon. If you look at management experience, what there has been in running an organization that has 2.9 million employees--it is the largest component, even including mandatory programs, that we have.

It also is the area where we have some of the greatest amount of waste. We had it during his tenure as Comptroller. We had it during the Bush administration years. Why would we put someone into that position who has not performed in a stellar fashion when given the authority to fix a lot of those problems before? Why would we put someone in charge who is going to be handicapped? There is no question, given the waiver he has received, he will be absolutely handicapped in all the contracting that goes before the Pentagon.

Let me explain. His former company is one of the five largest defense contractors in the country. It is not just the areas he has lobbied in the past few years, such as the Aegis Ballistic Missile, the DDG-1000 destroyer, the Excalibur precision-guided munitions, the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Netted Sensor System and the Multiple Kill Vehicle System, which comes to $41 billion, 10 percent of the Pentagon's budget, but every other contract that has Raytheon as a subcontractor from which he is going to have to recuse himself.

What he is going to be limited to is personnel matters and accounting matters. He will not be able to make those decisions without first getting a waiver to make them and then, if you are granting a waiver to make the exception and make a decision, here is what is going to happen.

Let me give the history of the tanker program in the United States. We, first, had a contract let to Boeing, which was complicated by some very bad acting on the part of Boeing and some Defense Department officials, and it got thrown out.

We last had a contract for the tanker program that was awarded to EADS. There was a protest filed on it. It got thrown out.

Everything he is not involved with, Raytheon can file a protest that they were excluded because the management chain was not the same. We have created the basis for a new protest on everything Raytheon will not win in the future. If Raytheon does win a contract, we have created a protest for everyone who wasn't Raytheon to protest because there is a conflict of interest.

Ask yourself, in this dire economic time we are in, with the largest agency we have, why we would put somebody in that position who is going to be--for at least 1 year and probably for 2, if we wanted to ethically look at it--totally out of the realm of the most important, outside our military men and women, most important aspect of the Pentagon, which is purchasing, contracting defense weapons systems.

We are setting a man in a position. It is no reflection on him. He is very knowledgeable. He has been a good public servant. We are putting him in a position to fail. We have guaranteed that contracting will not go smoothly at the Pentagon because we have created two new bases for protests over contracts. We can go through all the contracting, and it is going to be raised--and rightly so. There is going to be a legitimate protest on both sides of these issues that is going to delay the ability of the American people to
contract for things we should be contracting for. More importantly, it is going to significantly raise the cost.

The third point I would make is, because he is going to have to exclude himself from the vast majority of decisions in contracting and purchasing, the very position he is meant to fill, to run the day-to-day operations, means Secretary Gates is going to have to run the operations. If he has to run the operations himself, why does he need a Deputy Secretary of Defense?

President Obama, I think rightly, has asked Secretary Gates to stay on. I think the continuity with that was great. I am sorry he didn't ask others to stay on until we got past this period of time. In spite of the good will of Mr. Lynn, a man of character, a man of integrity, we have set him up to fail.

I have no doubt he is going to be placed in that position today when we vote. But we ought to think. The biggest problem we have with our body, in terms of what we do, is we do not think long run. We think short term. What we have done is totally handicapped him, but we are also going to handicap our military.

This is not a time we should be doing that. We should be creating a streamlined procurement process that rebuilds the procurement offices, which need to be rebuilt--that has no question about the authority of the Deputy Secretary of Defense to make solid, fair, clear, and decisive actions and decisions. What we are going to do is ensure that does not happen.

I thought it was interesting that Senator McCain's main point was he did not have the managerial experience to do this. Senator McCain is going to vote for him because he has such high regard for Secretary Gates. But think about that statement. He does not have the managerial experience to run a 2.9 million individual organization, and he is handicapped. We are going to handicap him so he meets the ethical outlines President Obama so rightly has put in place.

I think it is a bad decision. I think it is a wrong decision. Once again, the consequences for that will be inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and a greater cost for this country. Anytime we have a greater cost on anything now, it goes directly to our kids and our grandkids.

I hope my associates in the Senate will give a rethought to whether we ought to handicap this man this way. Surely somebody can fill the bill and let Mr. Lynn wait a year and then come in and do what he wants to do and what President Obama wants him to do.

Again, we will make a serious mistake if we approve him, not only for us, not only for our kids but for him as he attempts to run the largest organization in the world.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top