August 29, 2005

Silencing another critic of Dubya's administration.

A vocal critic of the US military's decision to give Halliburton a no-bid contract for billions of dollars worth of work in Iraq has been fired by her Pentagon superior.

According to Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, he removed Bunnatine Greenhouse from her post as the US Army Corps of Engineers top procurement official because of bad performance reviews. Bunnatine's lawyer, however, says that she was fired because of her record of blowing the whistle on sweetheart contracts such the one awarded to Halliburton. Bunnatine has said publicly that the Halliburton deal invovlved 'the most blatant and improper abuse' of the contract process that she had seen in 20 years of government work.

Greenhouse has been the Army Corps' top procurement official since 1997. Then-commander Gen. Joe N. Ballard has said he wanted Greenhouse -- a black woman -- to provide a jolt to the clubby, old-boys' network that had long dominated the contracting process at the Corps.

Since then, Greenhouse has developed a reputation among those in both government and industry as being a stickler for the rules. To her critics, she's a foot-dragging, inflexible bureaucrat. To her supporters, she's been a staunch defender of the taxpayers' dime.

In the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Greenhouse objected to a decision to give a five-year, no-bid contract to KBR for putting out the oil fires that Pentagon officials believed retreating Iraqi troops would set as the United States invaded. KBR had earlier been hired to write the plans for how that work would be conducted.

When the time came to award the Restore Iraqi Oil contract, the terms stipulated that the contractor had to have knowledge of KBR's plan. KBR was the only contractor deemed eligible. Normally, contractors that prepare cost estimates and plans are excluded from bidding on the work that arises from those plans.

When superiors overruled her objections to awarding the contract to KBR without competition, she recorded her concerns by writing next to her signature on the contract a warning that the length of the deal could convey the perception that limited competition was intended.

As Greenhouse became more vocal internally, she said she was increasingly excluded from decisions and shunned by her bosses.

Via Washington Post.

Posted by Magpie at August 29, 2005 10:50 AM | Corruption & Graft | Technorati links |