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U.S. Contracting Regulations Prevent Purchases at Best Price

July 19, 1987

While I appreciate the Los Angeles Times' concern with the House Armed Services Committee review of the procurement of the MX missile-guidance system, I must correct a rather substantial error in your July 1 story ("Some Allegations Against Northrop Called False").

I was quoted as calling Northrop's actions "dumb" during a committee hearing. In fact, I was referring to government contracting regulations when I used the word dumb. My exact words were: "We have a series of procedures that requires that the United States of America do business practice in a way that is so dumb nobody else would do it that way." Many of my colleagues agree with me that our bureaucratic defense contracting regulations can at times prevent lower-level managers and members of the armed forces from obtaining materials at the least possible cost.

It is unwise at this time to draw conclusions about the claims made against Northrop. As your story correctly noted, several allegations remain under investigation by various federal officials and agencies. Until we have more information, I will withhold judgment on the allegations.

ROBERT E. BADHAM

U.S. Representative, 40th District

Newport Beach

Editor's Note: According to a tape-recording of the hearing, Badham's comments followed a statement by Air Force Gen. Lawrence A. Skantze that Northrop's actions constituted "a dumb way to try to accelerate your purchasing system." Badham then said: "Well, on the one hand, I would agree with that." He followed that with the sentence quoted in full in his letter.

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