FAA administrator to head trade group when term expires

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration said late Tuesday that once her five-year appointment ends this fall, she will take a job as president and CEO of an aerospace trade group.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey's term is up Sept. 13, and she will join the Aerospace Industries Association on Nov. 12.

"Her exceptional experience in the executive branch of government, as well her deep expertise in public affairs and government relations, will greatly benefit all the members of AIA as she represents the industry in the years ahead," said William Swanson, chair of the AIA Board of Governors and chairman and CEO of Raytheon, in a statement.

Blakey chaired the National Transportation Safety Board before her appointment at the FAA, and served as administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration from 1992 to 1993.

Between those periods of government service, she headed the consulting firm Blakey & Associates -- now Blakey & Agnew and headed by her sister Leslie and Jeff Agnew -- which specialized in transportation issues. Her clients included major industry players like DaimlerChrysler and Lockheed Martin, which is an AIA member. During Blakey's time at the FAA, Lockheed Martin won a $1.9 billion contract to run the agency's automated flight service stations, facilities that provide information to pilots about the weather and other flying conditions.

Critics expressed disappointment at the timing of the announcement of Blakey's appointment and its possible impact on aviation issues up for debate this fall. The legislation authorizing and funding the FAA expires at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Blakey has backed a proposal to change the way the agency is funded, and both the House and the Senate reauthorization bills include plans to give FAA employees more rights during contract negotiations.

"It's disappointing that the announcement was made while she's still the administrator," said Tom Brantley, president of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists, the union that represents FAA safety and maintenance workers. "I think it's inappropriate. I think it would be very hard for her to try to advocate any position without others looking at it with a jaundiced eye."

Though in the past, trade associations and lobbying firms often were eager to tout their hires from the highest ranks of government, "I've actually seen a trend where people aren't announcing where they're going when they leave public office," said Scott Amey, general counsel at the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight. "It draws more attention when it's announced when they're still in the government."

Regardless of appearances, Blakey may face restrictions on her activities as she moves over to the trade group. Because she was paid at Level II of the Executive Schedule, according to the 2004 Plum Book, she falls into a category of senior employees banned from lobbying their old agencies for a year after leaving government service under guidelines from the Office of Government Ethics.

That restriction could block Blakey from pushing a priority that she and the AIA share: the development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which would include revamping FAA's funding structure and upgrading air traffic control technology.

Blakey will replace John Douglass, who has headed AIA since 1998. According to National Journal magazine's most recent salary survey, Douglass's fiscal 2004 compensation was $603,856.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.