Just in case you may missed it, the lead story in the NYT's Sunday edition was about the turnover at the Homeland Security Department – something they called the "revolving door."
Former Antiterror Officials Find Industry Pays Better [NYT, 6.18.2006]
At least 90 former officials are now working for companies that collectively do billions of dollars' worth of domestic security business.
Slate.com's Today's Paper's
The top story in the New York Times is the exodus of top Department of Homeland Security officials to the private sector and the loopholes that allow them to lobby the government soon after their departure…
While the revolving door from government to industry is old news in Washington, the Homeland Security exodus appears to be unique in its scale: More than two-thirds of the department's most senior executives have moved on to the far bigger paychecks of lobbying and consulting firms, the NYT reports.
The law forbids government officials from lobbying their former department or agency for a year after their departure. Homeland Security officials have shrunk that timeline by a variety of methods, many not unique to that department. But the piece identifies one key rule change, "created in late 2004 at the request of senior department officials, when the first big wave of departures began." The department was divided into seven components for purposes of the lobbying laws, so now a former official can lobby DHS officials right away, as long as the lobbyees are from one of the six components the official did not work for before.
The chart that accompanies the story
William M. Arkin, who writes the WP.com's homeland security blog
I have been uncomfortable with the dominant models for reporting the story: a straight government ethics and kickbacks/influence peddling theme, which offers no broader lessons; a following one individual or set of individuals -- homeland security officials in the Times series, as an example -- eminently worthwhile but an endless Niagara; or with an assumption that this is uniquely a Republican or Bush phenomenon theme, which is dead wrong, and offers the wrong lesson.
I do think to understand the Washington revolving door story, one has to follow the money. It is the lure of a big payday that even the most ethical public servant can't resist.
The New York Times couldn't say it directly, but "government service," even after 9/11, even in homeland security -- THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD to its occupants -- has turned into a ticket.