Defense Contracts: Cracking Down on Shoddy Work

When electrical problems delayed the launching of the space shuttle Discovery last June, NASA blamed a faulty microchip supplied by Texas Instruments. Now the Pentagon is trying to determine whether defective microcircuits from T.I. are also embedded in the computer systems of many of its high-tech weapons. Defense officials last week embargoed deliveries of military equipment containing the suspect chips and disclosed the "possibility of a criminal investigation" into how T.I.'s chips were tested.

Pentagon officials believe improper testing at T.I. may have allowed substandard circuits to be shipped to as many as 80 defense contractors. One of them, IBM, estimates...

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