The Pentagon's internal watchdog is looking into claims by a top Army contracting official that a Halliburton Co. subsidiary unfairly won no-bid contracts worth billions of dollars for support services in Iraq and the Balkans.

The complaint alleges that the award of contracts without competition to restore Iraq's oil industry and to supply and feed U.S. troops in the Balkans puts at risk "the integrity of the federal contracting program as it relates to a major defense contractor."

It also seeks protection from retaliation for the whistle-blower, Bunnatine Greenhouse, chief contracting officer of the Army Corps of Engineers.

A letter from an Army lawyer to Greenhouse's attorney said the matter is being referred to the Defense Department's inspector general for "review and action, as appropriate."

It also said the Corps had been ordered to "suspend any adverse personnel action" against Greenhouse "until a sufficient record is available to address the specific matters" in her complaint.

Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Houston-based Halliburton, said company subsidiary "KBR doesn't have any information on what Bunny Greenhouse may or may not have said to other Pentagon officials in early 2003. Certainly, we can't address any threatened legal action she may be considering against her employer."

"On the larger issues, the old allegations have once again been recycled, this time one week before the election," Hall said.