Army Contracting Chief Removed After Reporting Halliburton Contract Abuse

Published on August 29, 2005

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Army Contracting Chief Removed After Reporting Halliburton Contract Abuse

Washington, D.C., August 29, 2005. Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, was the senior Army Corps of Engineers contracting officer since 1997 until she was demoted on Saturday, August 27 after she raised concerns over contracts abuse related to the award of billions of dollars in contracts by the Army Corps of Engineers to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root. Greenhouse was brought into the Corps by a former Corps Commander, Major General Ballard, to help him clean up the contract abuse. When General Ballard hired her in 1997 she was overqualified – three master’s degrees and more than 20 years of contracting experience in private industry, the Army and the Pentagon. “She is probably the most professional person I’ve ever met,” Ballard said during an interview with AP.

The Corps first tried to remove Ms. Greenhouse in October of 2004. When it was revealed that her removal was tied to her objecting to contracts being awarded to Halliburton, the then Acting Secretary of the Army, Les Brownlee, withdrew the Corps attempt to remove Ms. Greenhouse as the chief of contracting and instructed that she could not be removed until a meaningful investigation of her allegations was substantially complete. When the investigation into her allegations seemed to be stalled, Ms. Greenhouse decided to testify at a hearing held by Democratic lawmakers. In June she voluntarily appeared before a panel of lawmakers and revealed that the office of the Secretary of Defense was heavily involved with the terms of the contracts to be awarded Halliburton and stated that the Halliburton contracts represented “the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.” Days before she decided to voluntarily appear before the panel of lawmakers, a high-level Corps attorney paid Ms. Greenhouse a visit and let it be known that it would not be in her best interest to appear voluntarily. Undeterred, Greenhouse appeared and three weeks later she was notified that she was going to be removed from office. Her lawyer, Michael Kohn (General Counsel of the National Whistleblowers Center) stated that her removal constitutes “blatant discrimination” and violates an earlier agreement with the Army to suspend her demotion until “a sufficient record” pertaining to her complaints is complete. “The failure to abide by prior commitments and the circumstances surrounding Ms. Greenhouse’s removal are the hallmark of illegal retaliation,” her attorney, Michael D. Kohn, wrote in the letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. So far, Secretary Rumsfeld has refused to comment and has forwarded journalists to the Army.

“Her removal will send a message to all concerned that if they dare stand up to corrupting influences within the Army contracting world their careers will be destroyed,” he added. “They went after her to destroy her,” said Michael Kohn, who added that the demotion was “absolutely” retaliation for her complaints about the Halliburton contract. In an interview with the New York Times, her attorney, Michael Kohn, stated that Ms. Greenhouse was “being demoted because of her strict adherence to procurement requirements and the Army’s preference to sidestep them when it suits their needs.”

Democrats, who had invited Greenhouse to testify about her concerns at a June hearing, asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in a letter issued on August 29 to reinstate Ms. Greenhouse pending an investigation.

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