Last month, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn called for enhanced awareness and enforcement of ethics laws and regulations. He should know the significance of such systems since he received a waiver in 2009 to return to work at the Pentagon after working as a lobbyist at Raytheon.
While he's on the subject, Lynn may want to consider POGO’s recommendation that the Department of Defense (DoD) make public its revolving door database.
The central database or repository was mandated by Pub. Law 110-181, Sec. 847 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The database includes post-employment ethics opinions of certain DoD acquisition officials and disclosures by contractors related to the hiring of former DoD officials. POGO is concerned because unlike the past (such information was made public pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §§ 2397-2397c, which was repealed in 1996), the current database isn’t publicly available.
POGO shares Lynn’s concern about the integrity of the government and his recent call to inspire “public confidence.” Shining a light on the revolving door between the Pentagon and the defense industry would be a great step forward in avoiding “[e]ven the slightest lapses in our ethical decision-making [that] can erode the confidence placed in us by the public.”
David Berteau, Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also agrees that revolving door database should be publicly available (see the revolving door discussion involving POGO’s Danielle Brian and the Stimson Center’s Gordon Adams at the 1:02:25 mark, and Mr. Berteau’s concurrence at the 1:26:39 mark).
In 2009, POGO submitted a public comment urging DoD to make the revolving door database public and we are waiting for a decision on a 2010 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for revolving door records. We have also made the Commander in Chief aware of the revolving door transparency problem.
Mr. Lynn, the ball is in your court.
-- Scott Amey