U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a March 17 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that opened with a request from Sen. John McCain to investigate controversial comments ULA's vice president of engineering made during a seminar at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Credit: DoD/Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department has launched an investigation into comments made last week by a now-former United Launch Alliance executive.

The DoD’s Office of Inspector General announced in a memo Tuesday that it was opening an investigation at Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s request into whether “contracts to ULA were awarded in accordance with DoD and Federal regulations.”

The memo, addressed to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, says the investigation will include “site visits, interviews, and documentation review with DoD and ULA personnel.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked Carter during a budget hearing last Thursday to “make a full investigation” into comments made by Brett Tobey, ULA’s vice president of engineering, that clashed with ULA’s public statements on why it did not compete for a GPS launch contract last year.

ULA disavowed his comments his comments and Tobey subsequently resigned.