“The Revolving Door” usually refers to politicians and other lawmakers moving back and forth between Capitol Hill and the corporations that Capitol Hill works with and regulates. However, according to “The Pentagon as Silicon Valley’s Incubator” by Somini Sengupta in The New York Times, there might be an emerging revolving door when it comes to government technology as well.
Many of us assume the government looks to the private sector to find the most sophisticated techniques. However, according to the Times, it might be the other way around. Silicon Valley is in fact seeking the expertise of government agencies to create the most advanced cyber security. Sengupta notes:
“For years, the Pentagon has knocked on Silicon Valley’s door in search of programmers to work on its spying technologies. But these days, it’s the Pentagon that is being scouted for expertise. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are finding it valuable to have an insider’s perspective on the national security apparatus when trying to find or prevent computer vulnerabilities or mine large troves of data.”
What makes the private sector interested in hiring government security-sector employees?
- Access to classified technologies and information gives government employees a unique perspective and insight into ideas not available to the private sector.
- Experience working on critical missions. As former NSA employee Oren Falkowitz put it, “you get to be on the bleeding edge, not just the cutting edge of what’s possible.”
- Relationships with government agencies and an understanding of an agency’s needs and procurement policies.
What makes the private sector attractive to government employees? According to Sengupta, the only factor is a higher salary. He notes an example of a former NSA employee who attended university on an NSA scholarship. Once his mandatory government service was finished, he immediately took his government-nurtured skills to the private sector.
What do you think? Is this relationship between Silicon Valley and Washington DC a good one? Should government agencies do more to convince their employees to stay at their agencies?