Air Force Secretary Deborah James on Thursday reassigned Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Richard Lombardi for failing to disclose a family tie to Northrop Grumman [NOC].
The Air Force said in a late Thursday statement Lombardi voluntarily disclosed he had not reported in his annual public financial disclosure form that his wife held a Northrop Grumman retirement account. James said she was told of the news Wednesday and reassigned Lombardi on Thursday. The Air Force said it referred the issue to the Defense Department inspector general.
James told reporters Friday after an Air Force Association (AFA) event in Arlington, Va., that Lombardi would become a special assistant reporting to Air Force Under Secretary Lisa Disbrow. Lombardi was filling two roles in his position: senior acquisition executive and principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and logistics, according to service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.
James said Disbrow would become the senior acquisition executive while the the Air Force said in its statement that Darlene Costello, a senior acquisition official in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), would replace Lombardi as principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and logistics. James said Lombardi’s first assignment in his new role would be working on a wounded warriors program.
James said Lombardi was not part of the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB) source selection, one of the Air Force’s high priority programs, as he was not senior acquisition executive when the contract was awarded. That contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman last summer. A decision by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on a bid protest by Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT] is expected Tuesday.
Andrew Hunter, director of defense-industrial initiatives and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Washington, said Friday he felt James’ decision to refer Lombardi to the inspector general made sense as it was a “pretty major oversight” to not disclose a familial tie to a major contractor. Hunter said he didn’t suspect any unscrupulous behavior on Lombardi’s part.
Hunter said the services, in cases similar to Lombardi’s, reassign officials and find them useful work while IG investigates their case. He didn’t believe Lombardi’s reassignment was a punishment but more of a “parking spot.”
“I think the whole idea is to create time and space for the investigation to come to its conclusion,” Hunter said. “If something bad happens, you can act in that direction. If the IG basically says there was no harm here, you can always move the person back to they were originally.”
The Air Force did not return a request for comment as to if Lombardi’s reassignment was temporary.