The Honorable Donald H.
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Dear Mr. Secretary:
writing to request that you investigate the Secretary of the Army's decision to
remove Bunnatine Greenhouse, a career civil servant in the Senior Executive
Service, from her position as principal assistant for contracting for the Army
Corps of Engineers. The decision to
remove Ms. Greenhouse from her position and demote her appears to be retaliation
for her June 27, 2005 testimony before Congress.
In her June
27 testimony, Ms. Greenhouse detailed her objections to improper and potentially
illegal conduct in the award of contracts for Iraq
Specifically, Ms. Greenhouse objected to the contract awarded to a
Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root, to restore Iraqi oil
infrastructure. Ms. Greenhouse
testified that the contract award process was compromised by improper influence
by political appointees, participation by Halliburton officials in meetings
where bidding requirements were discussed, and a lack of competition.
On July 14 -
less than three weeks after her testimony - the Secretary of the Army approved
Ms. Greenhouse's removal. The
dismissal is to take effect on August 27, 2005.
hearing, Ms. Greenhouse testified that she had been warned by the acting general
counsel of the Army Corps of Engineers that her appearance before Congress would
not be in her best interest. She
testified nonetheless because she had exhausted all internal avenues and
believed she had an obligation to bring her concerns to the attention of
Congress. The Secretary's action
appears to be the retaliation that she was warned about.
Greenhouse first raised questions about special treatment for Halliburton in
2003, when she objected to the five-year term of the no-bid, sole-source Restore
Iraqi Oil contract. On October 22,
2004, the Army referred Ms. Greenhouse's allegations of procurement
irregularities to the DOD Inspector General. The Acting Secretary of the Army further
ordered that any adverse personnel action against Ms. Greenhouse be suspended
"so that Ms. Greenhouse remains in her current position until a sufficient
record is available to address the specific matters [she] raised."
Inspector General's office has confirmed to our staff that its investigation of
Ms. Greenhouse's allegations is "open and ongoing." The Inspector General's office indicated
that it has not provided any findings or final report to the Secretary of the
Army regarding Ms. Greenhouse's allegations. Indeed, the office further told us that
it is working with the Department of Justice regarding potential prosecutions
relating to the Halliburton contracts.
Given these facts, the sudden dismissal of Ms. Greenhouse appears highly
suspect. The appropriate procedure
would be to wait for the results of the ongoing Inspector General
investigation. In fact, this is
exactly what the Acting Secretary of the Army ordered last October. No explanation has been provided for the
reversal in policy and the rash dismissal of Ms. Greenhouse.
against employees for providing information to Congress is illegal and entirely
unacceptable. Ms. Greenhouse has
given Congress important information essential to our oversight of waste, fraud,
and abuse. Instead of turning a
blind eye to improper conduct, Ms. Greenhouse worked within her own agency to
object. When her internal
objections were dismissed, she raised her concerns with Congress. These actions to protect the integrity
of the procurement process and prevent the waste of taxpayer dollars should be
commended, not serve as grounds for dismissal.
We ask that
you conduct an investigation into the decision to remove Ms. Greenhouse from her
position. We also request that you
reinstate Ms. Greenhouse pending such an inquiry.
Byron L. Dorgan
United States Senator
United States Senator
 Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Testimony of Bunnatine Greenhouse, An Oversight Hearing on Waste, Fraud and Abuse in U.S. Government Contracting in Iraq (June 27, 2005).
 Letter from Robert M. Fano, Department of the Army, to Michael D. Kohn, Esq. (October 22, 2004).
 Telephone interview of Bill Goehring, DOD-IG, by Minority Staff, House Committee on Government Reform (Aug. 11, 2005).