The Pentagon's most famous whistle blower is talking with the White House about a new job, hoping to get another chance to search for government waste.
A. Ernest Fitzgerald, who exposed a $2 billion cost overrun a decade ago, said Tuesday, "I wouldn't exclude anything they would offer me to help save the taxpayers money or to do better regulation."
Fitzgerald lost his Air Force job after telling Congress about huge overruns in the C5 transport aircraft program. Although he was ordered reinstated late in 1973 after a costly legal battle, Fitzgerald complains that he doesn't have enough duties and that the job isn't the same.
"I'm specifically excluded from looking at the big contracts," Fitzgerald said. "I'm not as effective as I could be." He likened himself to a talented lawyer working in traffic court.
The White House offer to help Fitzgerald find a new job followed intervention by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt). The senator had held up Senate action on a promotion for Fitzgerald's one-time military assistant until Leahy got the commitment from the administration.
In a Senate speech, Leahy said he has received assurances that the White House personnel office will meet with Fitzgerald "In a sincere and sustained effort to find an appropriate position in the government where his extensive and unique abilities can be effectively used."
"I now believe . . . he will secure a challenging job which will call for his special talents for protecting against the wasteful expenditure of tax dollars," Leahy said, adding that Fitzgerald has amassed legal bills of nearly $500,000 and was never restored toassignments equal to his ability.
At the height of his career, Fitzgerald had two staff aides, two secretaries and could call on any of 4,400 Air Force staffers to assist him in evaluating the progress of major weapons development programs.
Now he shares one secretary with two other officials and says his job consists mainly of personnel work and attempting to promote efficiency.
"My career was destroyed by my testimony," he said.
He said he has filed suit to be assigned more duties, and also is seeking $3.5 million in damages from the government.