DHS execs must heed new lobbying rule

The Government Ethics Office has taken steps to slow the revolving door practice of Homeland Security Department officials leaving their posts to become lobbyists for business interests.

Starting June 6, senior executives who leave DHS for private employment will be barred from lobbying the entire department for a year, according to a March 8 Federal Register notice.

Such executives currently are prohibited from advocacy activity for a year only in the component agency of DHS in which they worked. For the purposes of the ethics rule, the department is currently split into a parent agency and seven components: Secret Service, Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the directorates of emergency preparedness and response, information analysis and infrastructure protection and science and technology.

The new designation, in which DHS will be viewed as a single component department, was initiated at the request of Secretary Michael Chertoff, according to the notice. "The department has determined that a single, undifferentiated organization ? is in the best interest of DHS, the government and the public as DHS strives to establish a single, unified workforce," the notice states.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., praised the new rules, citing media coverage of several former DHS officials who have left the department and are now lobbying on behalf of private interests.

"This is a positive step toward slowing the revolving door between special interests and government service," Lieberman said in a news release. "By imposing a single, clear standard across the entire department, former employees moving to the private sector can no longer exploit loopholes in the system."

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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