NASA, White House

Bolden’s ethics waiver

On Friday afternoon the White House announced that it was publishing the waivers to its stringent ethics policy it had granted to a handful of officials since the beginning of the administration. The ten waivers released Friday include the one granted to Charles Bolden, the new NASA administrator; others include Attorney General Eric Holder and defense undersecretary Ash Carter.

The waiver, signed on July 23 by the unnamed “Designated Agency Ethics Official” (the signature is obscured), covers Bolden’s previous work as a consultant to SAIC and a member of the board of directors of GenCorp, parent of Aerojet. “Mr. Bolden’s knowledge of and expertise in current NASA programs are essential to making informed and timely decision-making about the future of NASA and its programs,” the letter reads. “His ability to engage in such decision-making as the head of NASA is in the public interest and fundamental to NASA’s ability to remain in the forefront of space exploration.”

The waiver allows Bolden to participate “only at the policy or program level” in matters that involve the two companies; it does not allow him to engage in one-on-one meetings with either company nor does it allow him to participate in any contracting matters that involve the companies.

The waiver is not a surprise, since it had previously been reported that something like that would be required to meet the administration’s policies. The waiver is also not linked to Bolden’s brief time as a registered lobbyist for ATK; as noted here back in May, he was registered for only a brief time, recorded no income, and later claimed it was a mistake in the first place.

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