Donald "Andy" Purdy Jr., the acting director of the Homeland Security Department's National Cyber Security Division for 21 months, may have a conflict of interest, AP reports.
As a contract employee, on loan from Carnegie Mellon, Purdy is paid $577,000, while DHS Sec. Michael Chertoff makes $175,000 a year. Meawhile, Purdy's division has awarded the university contracts worth $19 million, a fifth of the division's budget. Purdy said he hasn't been involved in the contractind deals, but lawmakers are questioning the propriety. The university, too, said it has avoided discussing government contracts with Purdy.
Purdy's contract "raises questions about whether the American people are getting their money's worth," Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Loretta Sanchez and Zoe Lofgren, both of California, wrote in a letter to Republicans.
Purdy's salary isn't justified by his technical expertise; he's a lawyer and government manager with no formal technical background. His predecessor, Amit Yoran, earned $131,342 before he resigned abruptly in October 2004.
The department said Purdy consulted with ethics lawyers when he signed his employment contract. Purdy is so careful about avoiding potential conflicts that he leaves the room when employees discuss contracts related to Carnegie Mellon's work, said one DHS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because this official is not authorized to speak with reporters.