Below is an important letter from Bunnatine
Greenhouse who spoke up regarding the approval of a highly improper
muti-billion dollar no bid contract to Halliburton for the
reconstruction of Iraq. In retaliation for her courage she was removed
from her position as the highest-ranking civilian contracting official
at the Army Corps of Engineers.
My name is Bunny Greenhouse. I am the former Procurement Executive and highest-ranking Army Corps of Engineers civilian procurement official.
Today I am asking you to contact your Senators and Representatives to demand, in the strongest possible terms, that employees who disclose fraud in federal contracting are fully and properly protected in the 800 billion dollar stimulus package that Congress is currently debating. Here's why.
Shortly before the Iraq War commenced, I blew the whistle on improper contracting concerning the award of a multi-billion dollar no-bid, cost plus contract to Halliburton/KBR for the reconstruction of Iraq.
I was concerned that improper contracting activity would cost the taxpayers billions – and it did. The contract should not have been awarded. From my inside prospective, it was clear that the “fix was in” – the contract was going to be awarded to Halliburton no matter what I said or did.
Those who should have protested the contract remained silent. And their silence is not surprising because, as federal employees, we have no meaningful whistleblower protection! We can be fired for reporting fraud. We can lose our careers simply for doing our job and trying to protect the taxpayer.
I know this is true. It happened to me. The top brass demanded that I drop my protests. I refused. The top brass – many of whom had longstanding relations with government contractors – retaliated. They removed me from the Senior Executive Service and from anything having to do with contract oversight. When I went to federal court to demand protection the judge dismissed my case because as a federal employee I had no protection.
The bottom line is that without access to independent courts, real judges and juries, whistleblowers don’t stand a chance, and fairness and transparency will not see the light day.
Only Congress can fix this. The House of Representatives has already acted decisively by adding H.R. 985 to the stimulus bill, by a unanimous voice vote (now called H.R. 1, Section IV). President Obama's presidential campaign is on record as supporting the same whistleblower protections now found in House version of the stimulus bill.
So, the buck stops with the Senate. I urge you to contact your Senators and let them know that whistleblower protection is a critical part of the stimulus package for protection of the public trust. I urge you to contact your Representatives and tell them to hold strong — and refuse to cut whistleblower protections from the bill. Federal employees, like me, who risk their careers to protect taxpayer money need to be protected.
Billions of taxpayer dollars are at stake and it is up to the Senate to do the right thing.
Very truly yours,
Bunnatine H. Greenhouse
Former Procurement Executive
Army Corps of Engineers