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Project on Government Oversight

Obama's Pick for Director of National Intelligence Has Conflicted Past

Related Content: Conflicts of Interest
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January 8, 2009

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is concerned by the news that President-elect Barack Obama has selected retired Admiral Dennis C. Blair to be the Director of National Intelligence, even after a POGO investigation revealed--and a Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) report confirmed--that Blair violated financial conflict of interest policies while serving as the head of a defense research institute.
 
Over the course of an investigation of multiyear procurement for the F-22 in 2006, POGO found that Admiral Blair--then-President of the Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which was evaluating whether or not the F-22 met the legal requirements for multiyear procurement--was also a stockholder and board member for the EDO Corporation and Tyco International Limited, both subcontractors for the F-22.  At the time this conflict was revealed, Admiral Blair told the Washington Post he did not recuse himself "because his link to EDO was not of sufficient 'scale' to require it."  Following the news, however, Blair resigned from EDO and from the IDA.
 
After the DoD IG confirmed POGO's findings that Admiral Blair had in fact violated IDA's conflict of interest standards, he told the Washington Post, "With due respect to the inspector general, I find it difficult to understand how I can be criticized for a conflict of interest involving a study in which I had no involvement."
 
"The basic obligations of public service are undermined when an official has a financial interest in the projects his organization is overseeing," said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian.  "Blair's struggle to recognize that what he did was wrong makes him a troubling selection, and we hope that the Senate will carefully scrutinize Admiral Blair’s history and attitude towards conflicts of interest during his confirmation hearing."

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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