Watchdog Group Unveils Pentagon's 'Revolving Door' Database

Defense Department file photo

The Defense Department for several years has maintained a database of top military officers’ requests for ethics rulings on their plans to move to private-sector employment, according to the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which obtained the database through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The list, which includes such intelligence and defense contracting giants as CSC, Northrop Grumman, DynCorp and L3 Communications, shows the service where the official making the request works and the date of requests from January 2012 to May 2013, but no names. About 84 percent of the employees seeking jobs, CREW determined, had at least one specific employer in mind when they sought the ethics ruling, while others searched the whole defense industry.

The database “is just a snapshot of the Pentagon’s revolving door,” CREW wrote in a blog, “but it suggests private contractors continue to see senior DoD officials as particularly valuable during this time of tight budgets and defense reductions. People have to be allowed to make a living and use their expertise, but the public needs to know former defense officials aren’t using insider knowledge to benefit private contractors who charge American taxpayers billions of dollars.”

The existence of the database stems from a 2008 law requiring Defense employees supervising large contracts to seek an ethics ruling before taking defense industry jobs within two years of leaving government. According to CREW’s tally, 13 people listed Lockheed Martin as a possible employer, seven listed Boeing, eight listed General Dynamics, 10 listed Raytheon and 13 listed Northrop Grumman. Multiple federal employees listed SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and BAE as prospective employers.

CREW, which waited 18 months for the FOIA request response, said the Pentagon should release the list routinely.

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