Maria Garzino named public servant of the year

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Collin Mitchell/KPCC

Maria Garzino

The federal Office of Special Counsel has named a Los Angeles based whistleblower the public servant of the year. KPCC’s Molly Peterson reports.

Maria Garzino is an engineer and a contract specialist for the LA district of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

After Hurricane Katrina, she led a team whose job was to test and install large water pumps to protect part of New Orleans from flooding. For three years she sought redress for her claim that the pumps won’t work, first from her superiors, then from federal oversight agencies.

KPCC’s exhaustive search of public records has found no records of successful tests of the pumps. And this year an independent engineer who investigated Garzino’s claims for the federal government backed up her claims.

Garzino’s reports went to the White House and the federal council on environmental quality. Neither has acted on them.

California Senator Barbara Boxer has vowed to get answers abut Garzino’s concerns but has held no further hearings. For its part, the Army Corps maintains that the pumps will be replaced soon.

Garzino works in the same place she did when Katrina hit. She gets no money for being named public servant of the year.

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