AF acquisitions official apparently kills self
By Seamus O’Connor | Staff writer | October 16, 2007
A civilian Air Force acquisitions official has died.
Charles D. Riechers, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and management, was found dead in his home late Sunday night by Loudoun County, Va., police responding to an unattended death call, according to Kraig Troxell, a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
Riechers’ body was discovered by friends who called in the incident, Troxell said. A Virginia state medical examiner performed an autopsy Monday morning, but could not release any other information.
An Air Force internal communication announcing Riechers’ death said that the cause of death appeared to be suicide. The sheriff’s office is investigating the cause of death and could not confirm the appearance of a suicide.
But the Air Force released an official statement Oct. 15, saying Riechers had “passed away this weekend,” and that “details of this incident are under investigation by the Loudoun County [Va.] Sheriff’s Office.
“We are deeply saddened by his death and we mourn with his family,” the statement read. “Those who served with Mr. Riechers knew him as an experienced leader, a dedicated servant to this nation, and a great friend.”
Riechers served in the deputy position since Jan. 25 under Sue C. Payton, the service’s acquisition chief. He was the first person to hold the title since Darleen A. Druyun, who went to prison in 2005 after admitting to improperly favoring The Boeing Co. in four contracts she negotiated on behalf of the Air Force in exchange for personal favors, including a job for herself.
According to the Air Force Oct. 15 statement, “he was key advisor for the Air Force’s highest priority acquisition programs such as KC-X, CSAR-X, Next Generation Bomber, and 5th Generation Fighters. His extraordinary technical expertise and his polished leadership style were well respected in the Pentagon. His work there led to many successes in Air Force Acquisition Transformation including progress on high-level initiatives such as Open Architectures, Directed Energy Programs, Alternate Fuels Programs and process improvements to increase the speed, agility, and cost effectiveness of major acquisition programs.”
Riechers was the subject of an Oct. 1 Washington Post report citing a two-month contract he received from Commonwealth Research Institute, a tax-exempt nonprofit that works in various capacities supporting the Pentagon. The story revealed that Riechers had almost no interaction with CRI during his employment there, and that his contract was arranged at the request of the Air Force.
Riechers was under contract with CRI from Nov. 27, 2006, to Jan. 25, during which time he was paid $26,788, according to the Post’s report. During that time he worked with Payton on Air Force projects unrelated to CRI’s business while waiting to be confirmed for the Air Force acquisitions post, the story said.
By his own admission to the Post, “I really didn’t do anything for CRI,” Riechers said. “We needed some way to gap me.”
The Air Force defended the contract work, saying the arrangement “gave the Air Force the opportunity to take advantage of Mr. Riechers’ expertise while he was waiting to be appointed to his present position, and it provided Commonwealth Research with technical expertise it needed to provide services to the Air Force in accordance with its existing contract and task order,” according to a statement released by spokeswoman Jennifer Bentley.
Specifically, the statement said, Riechers advised the service on the KC-X acquisition project, unmanned aerial vehicle systems, the C-130 avionics modernization program and other matters during his two months with CRI.
Riechers was an Air Force officer from 1982-2002, flying 90 combat hours in the B-52G and EC-130H. He retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel.