Group: Senate should scrutinize DNI choice

The government watchdog group Project on Government Oversight (POGO) is calling for careful scrutiny of president-elect Barack Obama’s appointment of Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence because of Blair’s past conflict-of-interest concerns related to two government contractors.

Blair stepped down from his post as president of the Institute for Defense Analyses two years ago after the Defense Department's inspector general found that he had violated conflict-of-interest rules. Blair owned stock and served on the board of contractors EDO Corp. and Tyco International Ltd., both subcontractors to the Air Force’s F-22 fighter jet, while the institute was evaluating the F-22 procurement for DOD.

The IG said Blair was aware of the potential conflict, but did not recuse himself from that evaluation. The audit also said Blair did not alter the conclusions of the evaluation or benefit personally from it. POGO initiated the investigations of Blair.

“The basic obligations of public service are undermined when an official has a financial interest in the projects his organization is overseeing,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said Jan. 8. “Blair’s struggle to recognize that what he did was wrong makes him a troubling selection, and we hope that the Senate will carefully scrutinize [Blair’s] history and attitude towards conflicts of interest during his confirmation hearing.”

Blair could not be reached immediately.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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