Bunnatine Greenhouse Testifies before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee
You can watch a video of highlights from all the testimony given before the Committee here, and read a transcript of those highlights here.
“Abuses in Private Security and Reconstruction Contracting in Iraq: Ensuring Accountability, Protecting Whistleblowers”
My name is Bunnatine Greenhouse. I thank the Committee for allowing me to
appear here today. As you may be aware, I was the United States Army Corps of
Engineers’ Procurement Executive and Principal Assistant Responsible for
Contracting (PARC). I am the first black female to have held a Senior Executive
Service position within the Army Corps of Engineers. A career spanning over 23
years ended on August 27, 2005, when I was removed from the Senior Executive
Service and from contracting. I was removed after I raised concerns over the
award of a $7 billion sole source, no compete, cost plus contract to Halliburton
subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (“KBR”) known as the Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO)
contract. The award of this contract and other contracts related to the RIO contract
represent the worst contract abuse I witnessed during my professional career.
Before the contract was awarded, I voiced great concern over the legality of the
selection of KBR, the total lack of competition and the excessive duration of the
RIO contract. I explained to representatives from the Department of Defense, the
Department of the Army and the Army Corps that granting a contract for two base
years with the potential to extend the contract for an additional three years was
simply unconscionable under the compelling emergency justification that was
identified as the basis for awarding the contract to KBR. All of my objections were
ignored and so in February 2003 I chose to pen next to my signature on a critical
contracting document my concern over the duration of the contract that was going
to be awarded to Halliburton/KBR.
In October of 2004 I received notice that I was to be demoted and removed from
the SES. At that juncture the concerns I had over the award of the RIO contract
and other contract abuses related to Halliburton/KBR were brought to the attention
of members of Congress and the public. In response to the substance of my
concerns, the Acting Secretary of the Army directed that my concerns were to be
referred to the Department of Defense Inspector General for review and action and 2
that I was not to be demoted or removed from the SES until “a sufficient record is
available to address the specific matters” I had raised. Yet, the DOD IG has failed
to conduct any investigation of my concerns.
In June of 2005 I was asked to appear before this Committee and I agreed to
do so. Just prior to my appearance, the Army Corps’ Acting General Counsel let
me know in no uncertain terms that it would not be in my best interest to do so. I
ignored this threat to my professional career and swiftly thereafter I was removed
from the SES and from contracting.
Things have not fared well for me since then.
After having a full year to figure out where I should be placed upon my demotion,
I was directed to report to the Army Corps’ Civil Works Engineering and
Construction Division, where I was supposed to function as a “program manager.”
As I was about to report to the Engineering and Construction Division Katrina was
poised to strike New Orleans. Indeed, the horrific breach of the New Orleans
levies commenced less than 24 hours from the time I was directed to report to the
Civil Works division.
The response to the Katrina disaster was one of the largest contracting civil works
efforts the Army Corps has ever faced. But, the Corps had no leadership in
contracting; an SES was moved into my position who was not a Contracting
Careerist and had not served a day as a contracting officer – and had to seek a
waiver for the experience and training requirements that were established by
On the contracting side, I had long been acknowledged as the most knowledgeable
and critical thinking contracting professional within the Army Corps, yet there was no role for me to play in response to Katrina.
On the civil works side, I am a Defense Systems Management College certified
program manager, with a master’s degree in engineering management from George
Washington University, and a War College master’s degree in national resources
strategy, a master’s degree in Business Management and a graduate of the Defense
Senior Acquisition Course, yet there was no role for me to play in the face of the
Instead, I was systematically excluded from the Katrina management meetings that
were held in my office area, behind closed doors. 3
I was born and raised in Louisiana and am a member of the Louisiana Hall of
Fame for Women in Government, and I can assure you that it pained me greatly
that I was not permitted to assist with the Katrina disaster.
Ultimately, the only reason given for having failed to give me performance
standards for nine months was that my supervisor was too busy responding to the
Katrina emergency to give me something to do. I don’t believe that for one
Since my demotion I have experienced isolation; I continue to receive
inappropriately down-graded performance reviews; my top secret clearance has
been withdrawn; individuals have attempted to take credit for my work, no training
opportunities have been identified since I have no Engineering and Construction
mission responsibilities, and I have been prevented from returning to my
contracting career field.
Additionally, I had to fight off efforts to cripple the Defense Base Act (“DBA”)
insurance pilot program – a program where I single-handedly wrote the concept of
operations, and all solicitation documentation; responded to all questions from
industry; conducted an industry forum with more than fifty insurance brokers in
attendance; and engineered the procurement process to its final stages. The
Congressional Budget Office has recognized the benefit of my DBA insurance
program, which saved the government $45 million in its first year alone, with even
greater savings forecast for the years to come. The intensity of battle I had to fight
to maintain the DBA insurance program leads me to believe that the Army Corps
was more than willing to sacrifice my program then allow me to garner credit for
Finally, it is paramount for this Committee to recognize that my removal has
caused a deep chill to descend over the government contracting community and the
SES Corps. Contracting officers now know that speaking up against contracting
abuses will not bring them praise but can cost them their jobs.
Latest News & Insights
January 24, 2023
Stephen M. Kohn, Esq. writes for Reuters outlining the massive impact the new AML Whistleblower Improvement Act will have in fighting Russian corruption.
July 25, 2022
Stephen M. Kohn, Esq. writes for Reuters outlining the massive impact a modern whistleblower award law could have in the enforcement of wildlife crime.
April 22, 2022
Stephen M. Kohn, Esq. writes for Reuters talking about the elements of a successful whistleblower award law. Since 1987, in cases triggered by whistleblowers, over $100 billion has been collected in fines, penalties, and voluntary compliance payments from fraudsters, money launderers, and tax evaders.
February 1, 2022
In a new article published by Reuters, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto founding partner Stephen M. Kohn outlines the loopholes undermining the effectiveness of the whistleblower reward provisions in the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act of 2020. In addition to highlighting the AML Act’s shortcomings, Kohn details the major efforts underway to ...
Subscribe for News & Resources
Receive exclusive updates and news from our firm.