The controversial situation concerning AAR Airlift Group as contracted through the Worldwide Aviation Support Services (WASS) has left government officials skeptical.
The contract in question is for $10 billion and 11.5 years and provides transportation services for members of Congress, as well as other elected U.S. officials.
Given the high profile of the individuals who are being transported, the selection process was rigorous and resulted in DynCorp, which had the contract for 23 years, to be cut off from the selection pool, with the State Department citing problems with the company's performance, according to National Interest.
Yet the recent mishaps with the selected transportation provider, AAR, has left members of the federal government, including some in Congress, wondering why a company with performance problems of its own was considered a viable option for such a valuable contract.
As specified by the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act for 2018, WASS is the subject of great interest for its election and award of the contract to AAR.
"The Committee underscores support for aviation services for the Department of State that fully meet safety and security requirements in a cost-effective manner, and notes with concern allegations of impropriety regarding the Worldwide Aviation Support Services contract solicitation," the appropriations bill says.
The contract AAR landed consumed a large portion of the Department of Defense budget, which, in fiscal 2017 was $582.7 billion.
Given AAR's track record, it is questionable whether it ought to be the contractor that provides secure transportation of elected U.S. officials to the Middle East.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Commerce Committee’s Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee, and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chairman of Commerce Committee’s Aviation Operations, Safety and Security Subcommittee and member of both the Appropriations Committee’s Defense and State subcommittees, were both contacted for a statement. Neither provided a comment.