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Obama Tightens Ethics for Appointees

The Obama transition team has issued ethics guidelines that are likely to make it extremely difficult to attract qualified defense industry appointees.

"No political appointees would be able to work regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration," the new guidelines say.

"You can understand the motivation behind it, but it’s not clear that you will get the best and brightest people who understand what needs to be done to serve in the government. As you know previous administrations have had great difficulty attracting people under the existing guidelines," a procurement expert with experience in and out of government told me this morning.

The Aerospace Industries Association recently published a report, "Overcoming Barriers to Public Service," on the difficulties of finding good people.

Three of the candidates for senior Pentagon positions -- Paul Kaminski and Jacques Gansler for deputy secretary of Defense, and John Douglass for undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics -- might well benefit from the Obama strictures. All three men are eminent in their field, none of them have worked for a defense company recently and all are old enough that they probably would not have to scramble for a high paying job in industry after they leave government.

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