Air Force secretary resigns, not unexpectedly

Secretary of the Air Force James Roche, who has served in the position since 2001, announced his resignation yesterday. According to a statement released by the Defense Department, Roche told secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in early October he intended to step down at the end of President Bush's first term.

In 2003, Roche was nominated to become secretary of the Army, but he withdrew his name after drawing extensive criticism for his handling of the ill-fated Boeing tanker leasing program. Air Force procurement executive Darlene Druyun was convicted of a conspiracy charge earlier this year for secretly negotiating a job with Boeing while supervising contracts held by the company, and Boeing executive Michael Sears pleaded guilty on Monday to felony conflict-of-interest charge.

During Roche's tenure, the Air Force implemented numerous key IT programs, including the award earlier this year of its $9 billion, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity Network Centric Solutions program. The service also signed an enterprise license agreement worth an estimated $441 million with Microsoft Corp., through Dell Inc., to standardize on core desktop software from the company.

One example of the Air Force's search for innovative solutions, Air Force Knowledge Services, a relatively small project'costing $10 million to fully deploy the first phase'has drawn praise for the flexibility of its data warehousing, drawing from numerous legacy databases to provide a wide range of analytical and aggregating capabilities.

From 1984 to 2001, Roche was an executive with Northrop Grumman Corp. He served for 23 years in the Navy.

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