FEMA Chief of Staff’s Conflict of Interest

Saturday, May 02, 2009
Jason McNamara

President Barack Obama’s pledge to maintain a high ethical standard in his administration hasn’t stopped the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from employing a former top executive from a major FEMA contractor to serve as the agency’s lead administrative official. Jason McNamara was hired in April to be FEMA’s chief of staff, responsible for implementing top priorities and policies and running day-to-day operations, after working for Dewberry’s Emergency Management, Disaster and Mitigation Services Group. Dewberry, a construction and consulting firm, has received more than $1.3 billion in Department of Homeland Security contracts since 2000, many of which were for FEMA-related work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has complained that McNamara’s hiring represents a significant conflict of interest for FEMA. In response to ethical concerns that have been raised, the agency announced that its chief of staff will recuse himself for two years from participating in any matters involving Dewberry. POGO officials say that could prove difficult given the fact that the firm is FEMA’s second-largest contractor.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
FEMA Closed to Openness (by Scott Amey, Project on Government Oversight)
FEMA's Revolving Door? (by Jen Dismascio, Politico)


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