In Washington, the revolving door between government service and more lucrative ventures is common, if not expected. However, having one foot in each has raised questions for the National Security Agency, which has launched an internal review of one senior official who was recruited by former NSA director Keith Alexander to work for his new—and very lucrative—cybersecurity private venture.
Patrick Dowd, the NSA's chief technological officer, is allowed to work up to 20 hours a week for Alexander's firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc., according to Reuters, which broke the story on the deal. Although the arrangement was apparently approved by NSA managers and does not appear to break any laws on its face, it does raise questions about ethics and the dividing line between business and one of the most secretive agencies in government.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told Reuters, "This matter is under internal review. While NSA does not comment on specific employees, NSA takes seriously ethics laws and regulations at all levels of the organization."
Alexander, acknowledging that the dual roles were "awkward," said that Dowd wanted to join IronNet full-time, but he declined the request, saying, "I wanted Pat to stay at NSA." He added: "I just felt that his leaving the government was the wrong thing for NSA and our nation."