The steady stream of top military officials moving from the Pentagon to defense contractors shows no signs of slowing down, according to a new report from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a non-partisan investigative group in Washington. In 2016 alone, “Military officers going through the revolving door included 25 Generals, 9 Admirals, 43 Lieutenant Generals, and 23 Vice Admirals,” the report said.
More broadly, POGO found in 2016 at least 645 instances of senior officials – including military brass, members of Congress and legislative staff – taking positions at major defense contractors. The officials became lobbyists, board members and senior executives, with lobbyist being the most common role by far. Of the Defense Department officials tracked by POGO, about 25 percent went to work for the five biggest contractors -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.
The ethics rules governing such moves are “a tangled mess and insufficient to prevent conflicts of interest,” POGO said, and it’s not clear that President Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp” of influence peddling has had any appreciable effect on the lobbyists’ revolving door. But the sheer size of the Pentagon’s budget provides a steady enticement for both firms and would-be lobbyists to keep the door swinging as quickly as possible: In fiscal year 2017, the top five defense contractors sold more than $100 billion worth of goods and services to the U.S. government.
Read the full POGO report here.