Interesting little newsbyte here from The New York Times about a top Army official being demoted for “poor performance” and who was also coincidently openly critical of the Halliburton Company’s non-competitive contract in the “rebuilding” of Iraq.
A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.
The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.
Ms. Greenhouse’s lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an “obvious reprisal” for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq. [...]
“She is being demoted because of her strict adherence to procurement requirements and the Army’s preference to sidestep them when it suits their needs,” Mr. Kohn said Sunday in an interview. He also said the Army had violated a commitment to delay Ms. Greenhouse’s dismissal until the completion of an inquiry by the Pentagon’s inspector general.
Carol Sanders, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said Sunday that the personnel action against Ms. Greenhouse had been approved by the Department of the Army. And in a memorandum dated June 3, 2005, as the demotion was being arranged, the commander of the corps, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, said the administrative record “clearly demonstrates that Ms. Greenhouse’s removal from the S.E.S. is based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties that she may have made.”
Known as a stickler for the rules on competition, Ms. Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Mr. Kohn said. But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said. Often she hand-wrote her concerns on the contract documents, a practice that corps leaders called unprofessional and confusing. (emphasis mine)
Interesting. I wonder if the Greenhouse’s attorney will ever be able to get a hold of her past performance records to substantiate their claim against the Army. And I wonder if the Army will ever fully disclose evidence substantiating their side of the argument–that Ms. Greenhouse’s past performance was so unsatisfactory to their standards that they decided to demote her. Just on the basis of her “poor performance ratings” of course–nothing as petty as criticizing the almighty Halliburton. And a little more from The Washington Post…
[...]She (Greenhouse) said the independence of the Corps’ contracting process was compromised in the handling of the contact. “I observed, first hand, that essentially every aspect of the [Restore Iraqi Oil] contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This troubled me and was wrong.”
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.[...]
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.
Last October, Greenhouse has said, Maj. Gen. Robert Griffin, the Corps’ deputy commander, told her that he was demoting her, citing negative performance reviews. He also gave her the option to retire. Instead, she hired a lawyer and took her story to the public.
Hmm. Oh what to make of this. Unfortunately this could turn out to be (or already is) some kind of ugly “she said/Army said” spat.