Earlier this week, Senator Chuck Grassley gave a moving tribute on the Senate floor to legendary whistleblower Ernie Fitzgerald, who passed away on January 31, 2019. Fitzgerald was regarded as “America’s best-known whistleblower” for reporting a $2.3 billion cost overrun in the Air Force’s Lockheed aircraft program to a congressional panel.
Afterwards, Fitzgerald and a handful of colleagues worked tirelessly to uncover excessive expenses inside the Pentagon. He discovered that “direct labor costs” for a Boeing cruise missile were $14 an hour, but that the Pentagon was paying $114 an hour. He also revealed that the Air Force was paying $916.55 for a 34-cent plastic stool cap.
Because of his candor and commitment to the truth, Fitzgerald was a driving force for whistleblower protections. “Mr. Fitzgerald’s fight to retain his job after blowing the whistle on cost overruns on the C-5 aircraft program was a landmark moment in the effort to protect the rights of whistleblowers,” Pentagon Inspector General Thomas Gimble said as he presented him with the IG’s Distinguished Civilian Service Medal when Fitzgerald stepped down from his Pentagon job.
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