What is the Revolving Door?

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Revolving Door

Supporters of the system suggest that this symbiosis between the public and private sectors benefits both by cultivating a pool of people knowledgeable about policy and business. This familiarity allows for a more responsive government that doesn't need to fully train each new legislator or regulatory member. On the other side, business has the luxury of hiring people with firsthand knowledge of the law, having helped create or enforce it.

Critics, however, point to something economists call regulatory capture. Within this framework, regulating bodies created to protect the public interest become populated or influenced by members of the industries they regulate. What may result is a loss of oversight and a shift in policy that favors industry over the public interest. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may lower standards for food quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may lower standards for air purity or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may rule against net neutrality. It can be -- and often is -- likened to hiring a fox to guard the henhouse [source: Butler].


Elected and appointed officials working in government may use their time in office to generate connections with legislators they can call on as contacts after they enter the private sector. Business can send members of its companies to alter policy and regulations to its benefit. But one large group is left unprotected and out in the cold by the Revolving Door -- the everyday members of the general public. If democracies are established to serve the public interest, how is the Revolving Door legal?