- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2009

William Lynn, whose nomination by President Obama to be deputy defense secretary is expected to be confirmed by the Senate this week, has recused himself from making decisions on six major defense programs that he lobbied on last year when he worked for giant defense contractor Raytheon.

Mr. Lynn, for whom the White House had to waive tough new ethics rules, made the pledge in letters to Arizona Sen. John McCain, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Under Pentagon rules, Mr. Lynn also will require special permission from Pentagon officials to make decisions about other defense programs that might affect his former employer.

His supporters argue that he is the best man for the job and that a well-established ethics process at the Pentagon will be manageable.

But the forest of ethics restrictions that he will encounter have led some to question whether he will be able to do his job effectively.

“Absolutely, it will make his job harder,” Thomas Christie, who was the Pentagons director of operational testing from 2001 to 2005, told UPI.

“The deputy secretary is for the most part the guy who runs the building and makes the decisions” on big-ticket programs. “If he has to recuse himself [from such decisions], it will place a burden on the process,” Mr. Christie said. “It sounds awfully onerous to me.”

The programs Mr. Lynn personally lobbied for included the Multiple Kill Vehicle, part of the controversial Ballistic Missile Defense Program; the huge but now-defunct U.S. Air Force Future Imagery Architecture satellite; and the Navys troubled DDG 1000 destroyer.

Mr. Christie, a Pentagon veteran who has worked on acquisition issues for 20 years, pointed out that Mr. Lynn also will, for one year, need to seek special permission from the Defense Department general counsel to be involved in any decisions potentially affecting his former employer.

“Raytheon is involved in so many programs,” Mr. Christie said of the Waltham, Mass.-based company, one of the top five defense contractors in the country.

Mr. Christie said decisions Mr. Lynn could not make for ethical reasons would likely be “kicked upstairs” to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

“You run the risk that he [Gates] will not be up to speed on the issues,” Mr. Christie said. “It could become a bureaucratic nightmare.”

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, wrote earlier this month to Peter Orszag, the White House Office of Management and Budget director, that the “recusal requirements could limit Mr. Lynns effectiveness as deputy secretary.”

Mr. Orszag issued the waiver from the administrations ban on lobbyists serving in the government.

Mr. Lynn, if confirmed, “would be the final approval authority on most if not all contract, program and budget decisions,” Mr. Grassley wrote. “Surely, a number of Raytheon issues would come across his desk.” He concluded that Mr. Lynns role would create an “impossible” conflict of interest.

But Stan Soloway of the Professional Services Council, a trade association that represents government contractors, said the situation would be “very manageable.”

Mr. Soloway, who served with Mr. Lynn during the latter’s last stint at the Defense Department in the Clinton administration, praised Mr. Lynn for an “innate sense of public service and integrity.”

“Just because someone has had to register as a lobbyist, does not mean they cant be fair and objective,” Mr. Soloway said. “If anything, the greatest discomfort is probably at Raytheon, because of a perception he may have to bend over backwards” to show he is not favoring them.

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