Policy Letter

POGO letter to Senators regarding SA 3286 to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005

To: Senator

From: Danielle Brian, Executive Director

Re: SA 3286 to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) supports Senator Byrd's amendment (SA 3286, Con. Rec. S6508 (June 7, 2004)) to the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005." The amendment prohibits former senior government officials from accepting compensation for contractor employment. For many years, the revolving door year has become an accepted and unchallenged practice throughout Washington and contracting circles. The amendment puts a foot in the revolving door by closing some loopholes and adding transparency to a very convoluted conflict of interest and ethic system.

Specifically, the amendment would:

  • Provide a two-year prohibition on political appointees, Senior Executive Service officials, and high ranking General Schedule employees (including policy makers who develop rules and determine requirements) from obtaining employment from contractors who significantly benefitted from the policies formulated by the government employee;
  • Require government officials to enter into a revolving door agreement that sets forth the programs and projects on which the former employee is banned from working. Like financial disclosure statements, these reports would be filed with the Office of Government Ethics and available to the public. Additionally, the agreement would be provided to the former official's new employer; and
  • End the loophole allowing former employees to work for a different department or division of a contractor from the division that they oversaw in the government.

The vast majority of career civil servants do not use their government jobs as stepping stones to high paying jobs with government contractors, and it demoralizes them to see their supervisors and co-workers do so. Senator Byrd’s legislation would assist in removing the appearance of impropriety when government officials go to work for contractors. Furthermore, it would increase the public’s confidence in government. We applaud Senator Byrd’s upgrades to standards of government ethics and urge you to ensure the public that an arm’s length relationship exists between the government and its contractors.