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Trade Rag Sucks Up to Readers

An editorial today, by Federal Computer Week�s Christopher Dorobek, makes astonishing claims in its attempt to calm the fears of its (primarily) industry readers about the numerous questions being raised about the revolving door:

...the Times appears to take some liberties. Jim Flyzik, the former Treasury Department chief information officer who worked for the Office of Homeland Security in the White House, is listed as working for the Flyzik Group and for Unisys.

Flyzik told us, however, that he does not work for Unisys, nor is Unisys a client. �I am on a Security Leadership Institute that is �sponsored� by Unisys,� he said.

Mr. Dorobek criticizes the New York Times for nit picking. In fact, the New York Times documented an extensive pattern of government employees cashing in on their public service.  It is, however, Mr. Dorobek the one who is nitpicking. Here is how Mr. Flyzik�s company, the Flyzik Group, describes some of the services it provides on its web site (emphasis added by me):

Public & Private Partnering With Results

The Flyzik Group assists clients in gaining unique insights on government programs and understanding problems government agencies are attempting to solve. The Flyzik Group will work with client representatives to craft strategies and solutions to government business problems. Support could include attendance at meetings and strategic planning sessions, introducing clients to key decision makers, email and telephone exchanges, assistance on RFP and Proposal reviews and presentations to client staff members. The Flyzik Group has unique knowledge of key agency programs and key decision-makers.

Mr. Flyzik may be acting perfectly ethically in his business dealings. However, his role in helping contractors access government officials certainly deserves scrutiny. The American public has the right to know whether Mr. Flyzik made contracting decisions during his tenure as a government official that benefited his future clients. Yet those kinds of records are not kept by the government.

On another note, we take issue with this statement from Mr. Dorobek (also emphasis added):

We focus on this only because the story seems to tar many people with the broad brush of unethical behavior without really stating what is unethical. If there is unethical behavior going on, it should be prosecuted. There are laws against it, and people have been tried and convicted. Safavian is only one example.

In fact, the laws against unethical behavior concerning the revolving door and financial conflicts-of-interest are monumentally weak.

For example, Darleen Druyun was involved in more than a dozen contracts involving billions of dollars going (potentially inappropriately) to Boeing Corporation before landing there as a highly paid executive running the company�s missile defense division. This was considered legal and ethical due to the fact that she was running a different division of the company than the one that benefited from her role in steering the government�s largess. She went to jail for knowingly violating conflict-of-interest statutes, but not for helping Boeing out. A Pentagon review last year found that the Druyun scenario could happen again.

Similarly, David Safavian will not got to jail for trying to help a lobbyist (Jack Abramoff) who took him on a fancy golfing trip. He was caught lying to investigators.

By: Beth Daley
Director of Investigations, POGO

At the time of publication, Beth Daley was the Director of Investigations for the Project On Government Oversight.

Authors: Beth Daley

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