James Byrne, the associate general counsel and chief privacy officer of Lockheed Martin, will return to the federal government as the general counsel of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was confirmed by the Senate last week to become the agency’s top lawyer.
A nearly nine-year veteran of Lockheed Martin’s legal staff, Byrne joins a group of company alums who slide between the public and private sectors.
At the defense giant, Byrne worked under recently fired FBI director James Comey, who served as general counsel for Lockheed Martin from October 2005 to June 2010.
Byrne wasn’t immediately available for comment.
In early 2004, Byrne served active duty with the Marine Corps for 18 months. He was as an officer in charge of the Marine Liaison Office at medical centers in Maryland, primarily supporting injured or deceased marines and their families. Byrne is also listed as an employee for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction around the same time. He went on to work for the Office of the United States Special counsel and resigned in July, 2008. Shortly after, he started at Lockheed Martin and remained there until resigning last week.
He will join the agency at a time when reform is being pushed by the Trump administration. In June, Trump signed a bill into law that will provide more protections to whistleblowers and streamlines the process to root out and eject employees who commit wrongdoing or have a history of poor conduct.
Byrne serves on the board of Give an Hour, a non-profit that provides mental health services to veterans and their families. He is a graduate of Stetson University College of Law and began his legal career clerking for U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard in the Eastern District of North Carolina . Byrne is joined by a fellow Lockheed alumni, Ryan McCarthy who was confirmed as undersecretary of the Army and appointed as acting secretary of the Army.
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