An article in USA Today covers the debate over whether members of a 20-person panel appointed to review long term defense strategy should be allowed to participate if they have ties to the defense industry. Pretty much boils down the following exchange as described in that article:
"Could you find anybody who knows anything about defense who doesn't have some potential conflict of interest?" he asked.
Some experts say the answer is yes. "There are retired military officers or Defense officials who don't have defense industry ties. If you wanted to find these people, you could," said Jordan Tama, an American University professor and expert on government commissions.
Good question. I suggest identifying 20 alternative (and willing) panel members of the type Professor Tama describes and let them review the panel's findings for potential ethics violations or at least for quality of their input.
The first quote in the exchange above belongs to John Lehman, a former Navy Secretary and chairman of J.F. Lehman & Company, a private equity firm focused on investments in the defense industry (mentioned here on Defense Ventures). Lehman has been recused from reviewing a consideration by the panel to relocate some shipbuilding from Norfolk to Mayport, FL, where Lehman portfolio company Atlantic Marine Holding Co, is located and who could potentially benefit from increased Naval spending there.