Former Coast Guard officials find lucrative roles with Coast Guard contractors

Coast Guard ethics attorneys cleared high-ranking officials for contractor jobs, GAO finds
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A majority of senior Coast Guard officials -- 22 of 39 admirals and Senior Executive Service officials leaving the agency from 2006 to 2010 -- moved on to work with contractors doing business with the Coast Guard, finds a General Accountability Office review.

In calendar year 2011, 12 of those 22 received compensation from contractors that received more than $10 million in obligations from the Coast Guard that year, the GAO says in a Dec. 20, 2012 report (.pdf). Nine of the 12 were involved in developing new business for those major contractors. More than half were paid more than $200,000 in annual compensation, the GAO found.

The auditors were unable to determine whether the former officials were continuing to work on programs for which they had official responsibility while in the Coast Guard.

The GAO did not determine whether any of the former officials had violated Coast Guard ethics policies. None of the officials was barred from accepting employment from a major contractor, according to the report.

Auditors note that 11 of the 12 paid by major Coast Guard contractors in 2011 had received advice regarding the ethics of post-government employment.

A Coast Guard ethics attorney provides an opinion based on a questionnaire filled out by the high-ranking official about his or her Coast Guard experience, including responsibility for specific programs and contracts, as well as anticipated duties and contracts in the new role, the report noted.

The questionnaire "makes clear that the resulting ethics opinion is only as good as the information disclosed by the official and that incomplete or inaccurate information could result in advice that is of little or no use to the official or prospective employer," GAO says.

A similar review (.pdf) published Dec. 15, 2011 found that about half of senior officials leaving the Coast Guard landed roles with major Coast Guard contractors.

Julie Bird is a freelance reporter.

For more:
-download the report, GAO-13-153R (.pdf)
-read the summary

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