Dear Action Alert Member:
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 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 contact should not have been awarded. But Vice President Cheney was the former President of Halliburton, and from an inside prospective it appeared to me that the fix was in.
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 – slammed me.
I was thrown out of my job and removed from anything having to do with contract oversight. When I went to federal court to demand protection as a whistleblower 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.
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 an important part of the stimulus package. 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