Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) announced May 16 their intent to introduce new legislation that would further restrict former government officials from lobbying the Pentagon and advising foreign governments from industry perches.
The 27-page bill, titled “The Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act,” would “crack down on corporate influence at the Pentagon,” said Warren – a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and a Democratic nominee for president in 2020 – in a Thursday press release.
Among other efforts, the bill’s language imposes a four-year ban on major contractors hiring senior DoD officials and on industry hiring former Pentagon employees who managed company contracts, up from the current two-year ban.
It would also extend the existing prohibition on former military generals lobbying the DoD from two to four years, and ban Pentagon employees from participating in any manner that affects the financial interests of their former employer for the same time period.
The bill would also seek to limit potential foreign influence by requiring military service secretaries to submit annual reports to Congress that describe the emoluments waivers issued to retired military officers who are hired by or receive compensation from foreign governments. It would ban all former military and civilian intelligence officers from working for a foreign government or a private entity that works predominantly on behalf of a foreign government.
Warren’s legislation would push for increased contractor transparency, advocating for more stringent requirements related to the Pentagon’s process for posting contract information online, and making private defense contractors subject to the Freedom of Information Act as well as the federal open records law.
Warren cites research from the Project on Government Oversight’s (POGO) Center for Defense Information, which states that nearly 400 high-ranking defense officials and military officers became lobbyists, board members, executives or consultants for contractors in 2018. Of those former officials, one in four went to work for one of the so-called “Big Five” defense contractors: Lockheed Martin [LMT], Boeing [BA], Raytheon [RTN], General Dynamics [GD] and Northrop Grumman [NOC].
“We need to fundamentally change the way Washington does business and put power back in the hands of the American people – that includes making sure national security decisions are driven only by what best keeps Americans safe, and not by defense industry profit-making,” Warren said.
House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Speier added in the release: “Our laws and rules are too lax and give contractors too much power and access. Industry should be a tool of national defense, not the other way around. This bill goes a long way toward fixing that imbalance.”