After years of fighting the government, Bunnatine (Bunny) Greenhouse, a whistleblower who was demoted after exposing problems with a sole source contract related to the invasion of Iraq, has won an almost $1 million settlement.
The U.S. District Court in Washington on Monday approved awarding Greenhouse $970,000 in full restitution of lost wages, compensatory damages and attorneys fees, said her attorney, Michael D. Kohn.
Beyond the particulars of her situation, Greenhouse said her case makes it “loud and clear that federal employees need better laws” to protect them if they engage in whistleblowing.
The Greenhouse settlement with the Army Corps of Engineers closes a high profile government whistleblowing case that involved a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Greenhouse, who was the civilian procurement executive for the agency, objected to KBR using its own cost projections for a multi-year no-bid, no competition contract.
She initially objected within the Corps, and later spoke to Congress about the contract. After she complained to Congress, she was kicked out of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and stripped of her top secret clearance.
Legislation that would enhance current whistleblowing protections has been considered by Congress for years without ever gaining final approval.
Greenhouse has been a strong advocate for greater protections. “I hope that the plight I suffered prompts the administration and Congress to move dedicated civil servants from second-class citizenry and to finally give federal employees the legal rights that they need to protect the legal trust,” Greenhouse said in a statement.
Kohn, president of the National Whistleblowers Center, called Greenhouse “an American hero.”
“She had the courage to stand-alone and challenge powerful special interests,” he said in the statement released by his office. “She exposed a corrupt contracting environment where casual and clubby contracting practices were the norm. Her courage led to sweeping legal reforms that will forever halt the gross abuse she had the courage to expose.”
During an interview with the Federal Diary, Greenhouse said her working conditions had deteriorated to the point that someone rigged a trip cord in her office last year, causing her to fall and to have a “very painful, very sore” injury to her knee.
Greenhouse said she was happy to get on with her life, but sad that she did not complete her federal career as she had planned. After 29 years with the federal government, she retired on July 22, a few years earlier than she originally thought and without her SES status and top secret clearance.
“No settlement is going to make me whole,” she said.
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