WASHINGTON DC – Yesterday, April 26, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, released a new investigative report: “Pentagon Alchemy: How Defense Officials Pass Through the Revolving Door and Peddle Brass for Gold.”
The investigation reveals that nearly 700 instances of former high-ranking DoD and other government officials now work at the top 20 defense contractors, and highlights the need to close the revolving door for ex-government and military officials hired to executive board and lobbyist positions at large defense contractors.
“When government officials cash in on their public service by lobbying, advising, or serving as board members and executives for the companies they used to regulate, it undermines public officials’ integrity and casts doubt on the fairness of government contracting,” wrote Senator Warren. “This problem is especially concerning and pronounced in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States’ defense industry.”
Senator Warren commissioned this report to examine the revolving door of DoD officials currently working in the defense industry. The results confirm that the door is still spinning rapidly – highlighting the need for legislative and regulatory overhauls to address the problem. Senator Warren has introduced the Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act which would “limit the influence of contractors on the military, constrain foreign influence on retired senior military officers, and assert greater transparency over contractors and their interaction with DoD.
Key findings of the report include:
- Top defense contractors hire hundreds of former government officials, most as lobbyists: As of 2021, there have been 672 instances in which former government officials, military officers, members of Congress and senior legislative staff were found to be working for the top 20 defense contractors. In 91 percent of these cases, the individuals who went through the revolving door became registered lobbyists for big defense contractors.
- Defense industry consolidation increases the risks from big corporations abuse of the revolving door: DoD is the largest federal contracting agency – of the total $692.3 billion in contracts awarded by the federal government in FY 2021, 61 percent were awarded by DoD, with almost 40 percent going exclusively to 10 defense contractors.
- Big defense contractors hired the most revolving door lobbyists and stocked their boards with former government officials: Boeing hired the most former government officials, 85, which includes six as high-ranking executives, two as board members and 77 as registered lobbyists. Raytheon hired 64, three as board members, one as a corporate executive and 60 as registered lobbyists. General Electric hired 60 revolving door lobbyists. These examples shed light on the frequency with which defense contractors use the revolving door to hire former, high-ranking government and military officials into senior executive or board positions.