“Here is the sound bite we discussed in this morning’s meeting,” wrote Mark Evans, a Goldman managing director, in a January 2008 e-mail message to Mr. Millard, seven months before the formal competition would begin.
Mr. Millard consulted with other industry experts during this period, but none so much as Goldman. George Koklanaris, Mr. Millard’s chief of staff, said in retrospect that the detailed analytical work Goldman did for Mr. Millard, and the repeated contacts, might have created an appearance that Goldman had a competitive advantage. Even so, he says he believes Mr. Millard did nothing improper.
Mr. Millard’s lawyer and a Goldman spokeswoman disputed that the firm gained any advantage from this work. The spokeswoman, Andrea Raphael, said the firm had no way of knowing that Mr. Millard was giving them more attention than other prospective bidders and that it was the agency’s job to identify potential conflicts.
The most important player in BlackRock’s attempt to win the business was David Mullane, who had known Mr. Millard since the two attended the same high school. The friendship continues; they both live in Rye, N.Y., and attend the same church.
In his conversations and e-mail messages with the agency head, Mr. Mullane often mixed family and business, talking about his golf game, his vacations, their children, their church (“Great job at Mass again this week,” he wrote in one), invariably shifting into a discussion of his interest in the government work.
“Hope to see you at the Beefsteak Dinner tomorrow,” he wrote to Mr. Millard, referring to a Friday night gathering at Church of the Resurrection in Rye. “If you’re going perhaps we can catch up business for a few minutes before I thrash you in ping pong again.”
After a February meeting, months before the contract competition began, Mr. Mullane wrote his bosses: “Money in motion by February.”
There were more meetings through the winter and spring of 2008, as Mr. Millard prepared his plans. That April, there was a charity dinner at Chelsea Piers, along the Hudson River. One BlackRock executive wrote to another, “Try to get Larry seated next to Charles Millard,” referring to Mr. Fink, the company’s chairman and chief.
After the dinner, Mr. Millard wrote to Mr. Fink, “A pleasure meeting you. No need to respond. I will follow up with you briefly in future re our investment policy and with your team re other specifics.”
The e-mail messages show that Mr. Mullane, a managing director at BlackRock, understood that the firm needed to move quickly, before the presidential election.
“He is a lame duck political appointee as soon as the November election occurs,” he wrote to one BlackRock colleague last June, as the bidding was about to start. “When the new man comes in at P.B.G.C., all bets are off for us.”
As he prepared to open the competition, Mr. Millard, working with Mr. Mullane, sought to restrict the bidders to the biggest players by stipulating that the winner must have thousands of employees and a global operation, e-mail messages show. That decision cut out many boutique firms hoping to compete and gave BlackRock, Goldman and other large firms an advantage. "Neither the company nor any of its employees did anything improper or illegal," Bobbie Collins, a BlackRock spokeswoman, said.
Mr. Millard, through his lawyer, denied telling BlackRock that he wanted to select the company even before the competition started. Mr. Millard’s lawyer also said he told the agency about his friendship with Mr. Mullane. But Jeffrey Speicher, an agency spokesman, said in a written statement that Mr. Millard “did not disclose his relationship with the BlackRock executive.”
While the competition was getting started, Mr. Millard began his job hunt.
He started by contacting Mr. Weinberg of Goldman Sachs, sending him his résumé after meeting with him in New York last June.
Mr. Millard’s e-mail messages show that, while the bidding was under way last fall, he also spoke with Rick Lazio, a former House Republican who is now a senior executive at JPMorgan Chase, to discuss career options.
In both cases, spokesmen for the executives said that while Mr. Millard was at the agency, they did not take actions to help him find a new job.
The e-mail messages show that within two weeks of the selection of the winners, Mr. Millard sought help from Karen Seitz, a Goldman executive involved throughout the process, in getting interviews with prominent industry players.
“I spoke with Dennis Kass after our meeting,” Ms. Seitz wrote last November, referring to the chief executive of a $60 billion asset management firm, one of half a dozen interviews she arranged. “He would love to meet with you in N.Y.”
To date, Mr. Millard remains unemployed. His lawyer noted that Mr. Millard had honored the one-year prohibition in federal law against negotiating a job with a firm that he helped select as a contractor. While still at the agency, his lawyer said, Mr. Millard also paid his own bill whenever he dined out with industry officials, including Ms. Seitz.
But Mr. Schooner, the government contracting expert from George Washington University, said even asking for career help from a company he had just picked as a contractor raised serious questions.
“As a federal official you are not supposed to be discussing, bartering or leveraging a new job while you are involved with parties in a procurement,” he said. “It is a clear black-and-white rule.”
Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, plans to seek legislation to require more intense oversight of the agency by an expanded board.
“The whole process was flawed,” said Mr. Kohl, the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which oversees the agency.