Retired US General Jay Garner, who has been ousted as the leader of the US effort to rebuild Iraq, is returning from whence he came: Virginia-based defense contractor SY Technology Inc, which has contracts with the Pentagon division Garner used to run.
SY Technology was privately held when Garner joined in 1997 as president. Sales grew to about US$28 million in 2000 from less than US$5 million in 1994, according to a former employee with knowledge of its finances.
Among the Pentagon work Garner helped secure from 1997 to last year was US$568 million worth of multiyear contracts with the US Space and Missile Defense Command, government figures show. Garner headed that agency from 1994 to 1996.
Garner's activities were one focus of a lawsuit against the Army by an SY Technology rival, and Garner also sued a critic for defamation.
While moves by ex-generals into private industry aren't unusual, such watchdog groups as the Project on Government Oversight are concerned by what they see as a revolving door.
Garner's efforts to win contracts "should be illegal" if pursued with the same Army agency he once headed, Danielle Brian, the watchdog group's executive director, said in an interview. "It's amazing to me that it's not."
Her group investigates waste in defense contracting and other areas.
In most cases, government ethics rules allow such lobbying after a one-year waiting period.
Garner, a 42-year veteran of military service, denied in a deposition February of last year that he used his Army contacts to gain unfair business advantage, and former colleagues defend him.
"I do not go to my friends for business," Garner said in the deposition. "I get business from my friends but it's not solicited by me. It's given to us because of the quality of our company."
Garner couldn't be reached for further comment; aides in Iraq didn't respond to requests for an interview.