Tag Archives: michael chertoff

Wa$hington Clean$ Up

Defense Daily reports today that DRS Technologies, maker of communications and intercept equipment for the military, will move its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Northern Virginia, joining almost all of the top 10 defense and national security contractors inside the Beltway bubble.

In 2006, DynCorp announced it would move its headquarters from Irving, Texas to northern Virginia, followed by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and the U.S. affiliate of the British giant BAE Systems two years later.  Northrop Grumman and SAIC then both fled southern California for the financial sunshine of Washington, joining Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Booz Allen Hamilton, ManTech, and CACI already headquarters inside the Beltway.  These are not just the biggest defense contractors, they are some of the largest corporations in America.

DRS, an operating division of Italy’s Finmeccanica, also picked up Obama administration first Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn, who took office only with an ethics waiver from the President, as chairman and CEO earlier this year.  Former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff was appointed chairman of BAE Systems earlier this month.  Former Air Force chief of staff Gen. John Jumper took over SAIC.

Some facts about Washington from the 2010 Census: 10 of the 15 wealthiest counties in America by per capita income are in the Washington DC metropolitan area:

  • The richest county in America: Loudoun County, Va.
  • 2nd richest: Fairfax County, Va.
  • 3rd richest: Howard County, Md.
  • 5th richest: Arlington County, Va.
  • 7th richest: Stafford County, Va.
  • 9th richest: Prince William County, Va.
  • 12th richest: Montgomery County, Md.
  • 13th richest: Calvert County, Md.
  • 14th richest: St. Mary’s County, Md.
  • 15th richest: Charles County, Md.

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: