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Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse

January 17, 2012

tried to silence – “…Greenhouse seems to have got nothing but trouble for questioning the deal. Warned to stop interfering and threatened with a demotion, the career Corps employee decided to act on her conscience, according to her lawyer, Michael Kohn. Kohn, who has represented other federal whistle-blowers, last week sent a letter—obtained by TIME from congressional sources—on her behalf to the acting Secretary of the Army. In it Kohn recounts Greenhouse’s Pentagon meeting and demands an investigation of alleged violations of Army regulations in the contract’s awarding. (The Pentagon justified the contract procedures as necessary in a time of war, saying KBR was the only choice because of security clearances that it had received earlier.) Kohn charges that Greenhouse’s superiors have tried to silence her; he says she has agreed to be interviewed, pending approval from her employer, but the Army failed to make her available despite repeated requests from TIME. “These charges undercut months of assertions by Administration officials that the Halliburton contract was on the level,” says Democratic Representative Henry Waxman. As the Corps’s top contract specialist, the letter says, Greenhouse had noted reservations on dozens of procurement documents over seven years. But it was only after she took exception to the Halliburton deal that she was warned not to do so anymore. The letter states that the major general who admonished her, Robert Griffin, later admitted in a sworn statement that her comments on contracts had “caused trouble” for the Army and that, given the controversy surrounding the contract, it was “intolerable” and “had to stop.” The letter says he threatened to downgrade her. (As with Greenhouse, the Army did not make Griffin available.) When the Pentagon’s auditors accused KBR of overcharging the government $61 million for fuel, the letter says, the Army bypassed Greenhouse. Her deputy waived a requirement that KBR provide pricing data—a move that looked “politically motivated,” the letter says…” (Beyond the Call of Duty)

stand up and do the right thing – “…Soon after, Greenhouse was demoted. She now sits in a tiny cubicle in a different department with very little to do and no decision-making authority, at the end of an otherwise exemplary 20-year career. People she has known for years no longer speak to her. “It’s just amazing how we say we want to remove fraud from our government, then we gag people who are just trying to stand up and do the right thing,” she says. In her demotion, her supervisors said she was performing poorly. “They just wanted to get rid of me,” she says softly. The Army Corps of Engineers denies her claims. “You just don’t have happy endings,” said Weaver. “She was a wonderful example of a federal employee. They just completely creamed her. In the end, no one followed up, no one cared.” But Greenhouse regrets nothing. “I have the courage to say what needs to be said. I paid the price…” (Iraq Whistleblowers Vilified, Demoted)

no-bid contracts – “…So back to Bunny Greenhouse, who argued that the negotiation and preparation of the RIO contract was unique, and in fact, unheard of. First, procurements of this type never float through the offices of the Army Corps. Second, despite the assignment to the Corps, the negotiating process remained in the hands of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Third, Greenhouse was critical of KBR’s integral role in developing the contract, something that undermines the process of impartially selecting a government contractor. And lastly, Greenhouse could not understand why the RIO contract was written so that any future contractor that wanted to bid on the Iraq reconstruction had to submit their bid for work in correspondence with KBR’s agreement. This requirement, as Greenhouse saw it, was unattainable, for nobody had access to the contract but KBR and the appropriate government offices.

Greenhouse wasn’t about to sit quietly by and let KBR off the hook. But she was careful. She clearly didn’t want to lose her job, so she initially only spoke out about one of the aforementioned Pentagon idiocies. But Greenhouse voiced her dissent in an unprecedented fashion. She objected to the length of the initial contract, which extended for five long years. Instead of sending out an internal memo venting her disgust, Greenhouse wrote her objection directly on the original RIO contract, right next to her signature. She wanted everyone to know that she was not pleased with the deal. As she wrote, “I caution that extending this sole source contract beyond a one-year period could convey an invalid perception that there is not strong intent for a limited competition.” Needless to say, the neocons overseeing the contract weren’t too pleased with Greenhouse’s point of view. Shortly after she voiced her objection, she received her first negative evaluation, in which her reviewer commented, “nobody like[s] her.” She was about to be demoted. No longer was Greenhouse going to have budget authority. No longer would she have any staff under her. But Greenhouse was savvy. She hired a smart lawyer and her bosses backed off – for a while, at least. Then on June 27, 2005, as part of the ongoing investigation into KBR’s no-bid contracts, Greenhouse agreed to testify before the Democratic Policy Committee that was looking into the Halliburton/KBR contract debacle. Greenhouse had been warned only three days prior that testifying “would not be in her best interest.” She didn’t listen, however. She spoke frankly to the committee. “I have been involved with government contracting for over 20 years,” she said. “[And] I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career…” (Bunny Bugs the War Profiteers)

Bunnatine (Bunny) H. Greenhouse is a former chief contracting officer Senior Executive Service (Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting (PARC)) of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. On June 27, 2005, she testified to a Democratic Party public committee, alleging specific instances of waste, fraud, and other abuses and irregularities by Halliburton with regard to its operations in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. She described one of the Halliburton contracts (secret, no-bid contracts awarded to Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR)—a subsidiary of Halliburton) as “the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career”. A long-time government employee, Greenhouse was hired by Lieutenant General Joe Ballard in 1997 to oversee contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers. After Ballard retired in 2000, Greenhouse’s performance reviews, which had been exemplary throughout her public career, suddenly soured. Greenhouse filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint alleging race and gender discrimination, which her attorney states has never been investigated. In August 2005, she was demoted in what her lawyer called an “obvious reprisal” for her revelations about the Halliburton contracts. On July 25, 2011, The U.S. District Court in Washington, DC approved awarding Greenhouse $970,000 in full restitution of lost wages, compensatory damages and attorney fees (Wikepedia).

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