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Northrop HQ won't come up in IT contract dispute, McDonnell pledges

Rosalind Helderman

Virginia would like to lure the corporate headquarters of Northrop Grumman, with its 300 high-paying jobs, but not if it would mean giving the massive defense contractor a break on its troubled state IT contract, Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell said Tuesday.

"Those are separate discussions entirely," he said.

McDonnell said the company's president called him Monday to give him a heads up about its announcement that the company would move from California to the Washington region. The company will announce an exact location this spring and president Wes Bush has been open about saying it will choose between Virginia, Maryland and D.C. based on the tax incentive packages offered by each jurisdiction. In other words, let the bidding begin.

Snagging the huge corporation just months after getting elected on a platform of bringing new jobs to the state would be an enormous political coup for McDonnell and he said he started giving his best spiel on the phone Monday.

But, he pledged Tuesday, negotiations over the move will be kept separate from the state's ongoing discussions with the company over its $2 billion contract to overhaul state computer services. The state and the company have been engaged in an ongoing dispute over the contract, the largest in state history. The company claims the state owes it money for providing services not envisioned in the 2003 contract, while the state says the company has failed to live up to its contractural obligations. Northrop Grumman has missed several deadlines for completing its overhaul.

"Having 300 high paying jobs in Virginia is something that I want," McDonnell said. "That has nothing to do with the fact that they will be held completely accountable and responsible for everything they have contracted to do, whether their offices are in California, Maryland, Virginia, D.C., it doesn't matter. They have a contract and we're going to make sure the performance obligations are met."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 5, 2010; 12:03 PM ET
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Bringing jobs to Northern Virginia isn't really the challenge though. Bringing jobs to rural Virginia is the serious work of economic development. A few dozen low-wage jobs in a small town is a big, big win.

Posted by: blasmaic | January 5, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Did not take McDonnel long to show that he is just a typical politician. How can his Secretary of Commerce ( Sledd) continue to serve on boards that will compete with State interests and reprsent companies that we often have to regulate like tobacco. McDonnel claims that Mr. Sledd is a very strong business person and we need someone who understands the business culture- no we dont- look how screwed up the country is due to big business making big mistakes ( banks. health insurance, wall street, etc). I am sure he is a smart person but I am sure there are others who do not have a conflict of interest that can serve in this position. Mr. Sledd is a multi millionaire and doesnt need this job- let someone without any conflicts take this position. Grumman deal or any other deals may be in question of Mr. Sledd is involved- come on McDonnel- you said you would be different- please dont lie.

Posted by: anyway1 | January 5, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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