Former Navy Secretary John Lehman rejected a House leader's suggestion Friday that his sweeping procurement reforms stripped away "checks and balances" and may have encouraged the corruption scandal now under FBI investigation.

Testifying to the House Armed Services Committee, Lehman boasted that he saved taxpayers millions of dollars with his decisions to abolish the Navy Materiel Command's overseeing Navy purchasing and to step up competition among military contractors.Accompanied by his lawyer, Irvin Nathan, Lehman skirted discussing specifics of the fraud and bribery investigation that already has led to the reassignment of five Navy procurement officers and is expected to result in dozens of indictments.

He said until the investigation is completed, it would be "premature to draw any conclusions" as to the cause of the scandal, in which industry consultants allegedly bribed Pentagon officials to obtain sensitive contract data.

Federal law enforcement sources have said the abuses may have undermined the competitive process and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.