WASHINGTON (CN) – A high-ranking official at the Federal Aviation Administration conspired with her boyfriend to ensure that his employer, Raytheon, won a billion-dollar contract to train the nation’s air traffic controllers, according to a complaint in Superior Court. The Washington Consulting Group claims it was unfairly ousted from the competitive bid, which it had held since 1986.
Charles Keegan, who left a high-level position with the FAA to work as a project manager at Raytheon Technical Services in 2006, used an “unfair competitive advantage” to win the contract, according to the complaint.
Washington Consulting claims Keegan was having “a romantic affair” with another FAA official, Maureen Knopes-Keegan, whom he married in August 2007.
Washington Consulting claims the two hatched a scheme to discourage other companies from bidding on the lucrative contract, though Washington Consulting Group claims its trainers have shaped the U.S. air traffic control system into “the safest in the world.”
In 2006 the FAA announced it was changing how it outsources training for its air traffic controllers, according to the complaint.
Previously, the FAA hired controllers and sent them out for training. The new plan called for the contractor to recruit, hire and train the controllers, Washington Consulting says.
The proposed system “dramatically limited the pool of prospective contractors, and completely eliminated WCG,” according to the complaint.
To qualify for the contract, Washington Consulting teamed up with Lockheed Martin, a giant systems integrator. But in 2007 the FAA abandoned the new plan, and the plaintiff says it was at a disadvantage when bidding opened.
Locked in “the much less lucrative position” of subcontractor, Washington Consulting says it could not enter its own bid and could not contest the FAA’s decision, which awarded the contract to “a less qualified and more expensive bidder like Raytheon.”
The FAA’s abandoned pretense at overhauling the system was a calculated move and “not the fault of a bureaucratic mistake, incompetence, or change in policy,” the complaint states.
Though the FAA’s previous contract terms lasted fewer than 5 years, Raytheon was awarded a 10-year contract, according to the complaint.
Washington Consulting claims the defendants’ meddling has “undermined the safe and efficient training of air traffic controllers that will serve the FAA in years to come.”
Six months into Raytheon’s contract, the “behemoth” requested additional funding because it had exhausted the money allocated for the first year of the contract – about $70 million – Washington Consulting claims.
Raytheon’s “insidious” misconduct constitutes a criminal conflict of interest, waste of federal resources and unfair bidding procedures, according to the complaint.
Washington Consulting seeks punitive damages and lost profits – which it estimates in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It alleges tortious interference with economic advantage, unfair competition and misappropriation of trade secrets. Its lead attorney is Steven Thomas with Thomas, Alexander & Forrester.