Another Kind of Revolving Door

[Originally published February 8, 2012; updated continuously]

I saw a press release from Accenture yesterday announcing its newly formed Federal Advisory Board.  It’s the round-up of the usual suspects, including recently retired former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright, former Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, and the ubiquitous Michael Chertoff.

These “advisory boards” — sometimes called strategic advisory boards or technical advisory boards — are not to be confused with Boards of Directors, where the board member has some stake in (mostly) public companies and fiduciary responsibility.  These are pure and simple informal ways for companies — mostly private — to buy credibility, names, advice, and hidden lobbying.

I’ve noticed these boards springing up all around since doing research for Top Secret America.  Is it just me or do I see Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, former Secretaries of Homeland Security everywhere?   Or people like Arthur Money, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for C3I, who I have to mention, because, well, I do see money.

The problem with this unregulated ethical loophole is also that players in budget battles and even policies regarding contracting itself clandestinely represent the interests of companies while provide media commentary and even supposedly impartial government advice.  Take Jacques S. Gansler, for example, professor and former Under Secretary of defense and advisory board habitue, and admittedly one of the smartest people on the issue of contracting and business practices.  The Gansler Commission Report on Army Acquisition and Program Management in Expeditionary Operations is enormously influential.

My quick perusal of federal contractor advisory boards that include at least one former  government official or retired flag officer of the military include:

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2 responses to “Another Kind of Revolving Door

  1. What about McChrystal and Siemens?

  2. Glad to see Dynamic Aviation on this list. Not only do they have good military connections, they have shady/spooky connections, ie, former VP George “Guy” Cannady.

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