Revolving Door Methodology

Google revolving door data was compiled from an analysis of publicly available information such as LinkedIn profiles, news sources, lobby disclosure records, Open Secrets data and other web resources. It should not be considered a comprehensive tally, but rather an evolving representation of the scale of the revolving-door relationship between Googlei and government.

Analysts gathered data by searching for online profiles in which the term “Google” co-occurred with terms indicating government jobs such as “White House”, “Obama for America,” “Congress,” and the names of several administrative and independent agencies.

They searched Open Secrets’ “Revolving Door” page for instances of employees leaving government service for jobs with Google or vice versa. In as many instances as possible, analysts verified employment information and job start and end dates by searching for the name of the Google/government employee using publicly-available resources. The “source_url” field in the original dataset identifies the best available source of information about each revolving door job transfer.

Analysis of the data identified individuals who were either employees of the U.S. government or national political campaigns (Obama Administration, Congress, presidential campaigns, or Congressional campaigns) who were later employed by Google, or vice versa: they were employed by Google and related companies and subsequently employed by the U.S. government or political campaigns. The analysis included:

  • Direct Moves: Defined as an employee moving directly from federal government or political campaign employment to employment with Google or vice versa – a Google employee moving directly to a job within the federal government or a political campaign. A move was considered “direct” if an employee’s LinkedIn profile did not list an interim position between her government post and there was no significant time gap between jobs.
  • Indirect Moves: Employee held an interim position before joining Google from the federal government/political campaign or a position in the federal government before joining Google.
  • Federal appointments to boards and commissions: Includes Presidential appointments to commissions such as the Presidents Council on Science and Technology or President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

In most instances only “revolving door” moves that occurred during President Obama’s two terms in office are included in the data. The exceptions are several Google employees who worked on the president’s first campaign in the 2007-2008 timeframe.

The dataset reflects up to three relevant positions in employees’ government service history. That is, the records for a government employee who served at both the White House and the Department of Defense before joining Google will show the move between the White House and the Department of Defense, and the move between the Department of Defense and Google.

The dataset also reflects movements between Google-affiliated entities such as Civis Analytics, whose sole investor is Eric Schmidt, and Tomorrow Ventures, Schmidt’s personal investment vehicle. Google employees who worked at both Google and Civis Analytics before joining the White House for instance will have records for their move between Google and Civis Analytics, and for their move between Civis Analytics and the White House.

Intern positions at either Google or the federal government were excluded from the analysis. See a problem with the data? Let us know at info@googletransparencyproject.org

i Now a unit of Alphabet Inc.