Senate Report: Nearly 700 Former High-Ranking Pentagon and Other Government Officials Now Work at the Top 20 Defense Contractors

ANGLO AMERICA, 15 May 2023

Jeremy Kuzmarov | CovertAction Magazine – TRANSCEND Media Service

Ideally, Warren’s report would precipitate a much larger congressional investigation of the military-industrial complex modeled after the 1934 Nye Committee hearings.


12 May 2023 – At the end of April, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, released an investigative report: “Pentagon Alchemy: How Defense Officials Pass Through the Revolving Door and Peddle Brass for Gold.”

It reveals, not surprisingly, that nearly 700 former high-ranking and other government officials now work at the top 20 defense contractors, and highlights the need to close the revolving door for ex-government and military officials hired to executive board and lobbyist positions at large defense contractors.

“When government officials cash in on their public service by lobbying, advising, or serving as board members and executives for the companies they used to regulate, it undermines public officials’ integrity and casts doubt on the fairness of government contracting,” Warren wrote. “This problem is especially concerning and pronounced in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States’ defense industry.”

To combat the situation, Senator Warren has introduced the Department of Defense Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act, which would “limit the influence of contractors on the military, constrain foreign influence on retired senior military officers, and assert greater transparency over contractors and their interaction with Department of Defense (DoD).”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is pictured during a Senate Finance Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on April 19, 2023.
Elizabeth Warren [Source:]

Warren’s bill would certainly be a step in the right direction if it passes, though it is not enough.

What is needed, more broadly, is a) a fundamental shift in the election campaign financing structure; b) an outright bar of Pentagon officials from working in private military industry; c) much stricter regulations on lobbying; and, ultimately, d) the nationalization of the arms industry, which would take the profit out of war once and for all.

The Revolving Door

The major findings of “Pentagon Alchemy” are that:

  • Top defense contractors hire hundreds of former government officials, most as lobbyists: As of 2021, there have been 672 instances in which former government officials, military officers, members of Congress and senior legislative staff were found to be working for the top 20 defense contractors. In 91% of these cases, the individuals who went through the revolving door became registered lobbyists for big defense contractors.
  • Defense industry consolidation increases the risks from big corporations’ abuse of the revolving door: The DoD is the largest federal contracting agency—of the total $692.3 billion in contracts awarded by the federal government in FY 2021, 61% were awarded by DoD, with almost 40% going exclusively to 10 defense contractors.
  • Big defense contractors hired the most revolving-door lobbyists and stocked their boards with former government officials: Boeing hired the most former government officials, 85, which includes six as high-ranking executives, two as board members and 77 as registered lobbyists. Raytheon hired 64, three as board members, one as a corporate executive and 60 as registered lobbyists. General Electric hired 60 revolving-door lobbyists. These examples shed light on the frequency with which defense contractors use the revolving door to hire former high-ranking government and military officials into senior executive or board positions. 


Top 100 Defense Contractors in 2022



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Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine and author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018). He can be reached at:

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