Pentagon Database Reveals Revolving Door is Alive and Well

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It’s a wonder the revolving door at the Pentagon doesn’t fly off its hinges considering how frequently defense officials rotate themselves into lucrative, private-sector jobs after leaving the government.


Last year, the watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) reported that 70% of the three- and four-star generals and admirals who retired between 2009 and 2011 joined defense companies or became consultants. By serving on corporate boards, retired generals are able to earn far more than their annual military pay, according to the group.


Now, CREW says 84% of senior defense officials who sought an ethics opinion between January 2012 and May 2013 were thinking about joining private industry, particularly defense contractors.


At least 13 people listed Lockheed Martin as a possible employer, 13 listed Northrop Grumman, 10 listed Raytheon, eight listed General Dynamics and seven listed Boeing, according to CREW.


Defense contractors SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and BAE were also listed by multiple people.


The information came out of a Pentagon database that CREW obtained after suing under the Freedom of Information Act.


The database was created as the result of 2008 Congressional legislation to require senior defense officials to confer with ethics officials before accepting a job from a defense contractor. It contains information about the ethics opinions that were provided to the defense officials, including the names of the companies and organizations where they are considering taking jobs.


The Department of Defense (DoD) had denied CREW’s April 2012 request for access to the database, leading CREW to file a lawsuit (pdf) against the department. That resulted in the DoD releasing heavily redacted copies of ethics opinion letters and, nearly a year later, the database information.


The database “is just a snapshot of the Pentagon’s revolving door,” said CREW on its website. “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. It’s difficult to track people moving through the revolving door. DoD should routinely release the information, instead of fighting in court to keep it secret.”

- Danny Biederman, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Military Contractors Open the Revolving Door for Former Pentagon Officials (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

Department of Defense: Regarding Ethics Opinions Database : 7/31/2013 - Crew Database Spreadsheet (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

Retired Generals and Admirals Cash In with Lucrative Jobs with Defense Contractors (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)          

Bush Defense Holdovers Must Sign Ethics Pledge or Leave (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)        


Leave a comment