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What GAO Found

Why GAO Did This Study

The United States Coast Guard, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, manages a broad, multibillion dollar major acquisition portfolio. This portfolio includes acquisitions to modernize ships, aircraft, command and control systems, and other capabilities used to perform its missions. As a result of these acquisitions and other purchases, contractors receive substantial funding from Coast Guard contracts.

In previous work, we found that each year some individuals leave government employment (hereafter referred to as former government officials) and go to work for federal government contractors--potentially the same contractors whose contracts they oversaw or were otherwise involved with prior to leaving. Last year, we reported that about half of the high-ranking officials who separated from the Coast Guard from 2005 through 2009 were compensated by a Coast Guard contractor at some point from the time they left through calendar year 2010. Former government officials employed by contractors are subject to laws restricting their post-government employment activities. The purpose of these laws is, in part, to protect against conflicts of interest--such as former government officials using their prior relationships, standing, or position in the government for the improper benefit of the contractor or to the detriment of the government, or both. Violation of these laws may result in criminal, administrative, or civil penalties for former government officials and, in some instances, the contractors that employ them.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 requires GAO to report annually, no later than December 31 of each year, on the extent to which former high-ranking Coast Guard officials have been compensated by Coast Guard contractors. This report (1) examines the extent to which former high-ranking Coast Guard officials who left government service between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2010 have been compensated by Coast Guard contractors in calendar year 2011, and (2) compares the responsibilities assigned to these former officials by the Coast Guard with those assigned by major Coast Guard contractors.

For more information, contact John P. Hutton at (202) 512-4841 or

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