Bruce Greenstein, the disgraced former Secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals under Gov. Bobby Jindal, was recently named the Trump administration’s Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Health and Human Services, an astonishing second act for a man who has spent much of the last few years living under the cloud of nine felony indictments for perjury.
Since he left Louisiana, Greenstein has been living quietly with his family in Seattle, more than 2,500 miles and a world away from his old home in Baton Rouge. In 2013, after three years on the job, Greenstein resigned from his position as the Department’s Secretary, the same job that gave Bobby Jindal his first major break into public life.
A year after Greenstein’s resignation, he was indicted on nine counts of perjury, serious felonies related to his alleged collusion with his former employer, Client Network Services Inc. Among other things, Greenstein was accused of improperly contacting his former employer as they sought and ultimately received a nearly $200 million contract with the state of Louisiana for Medicaid billing and fraud oversight services. It was considered the most lucrative contract in the entire state.
During the procurement process, when DHH employees were prohibited from contacting bidders, Greenstein “engaged in hundreds of phone calls and thousands of text messages with CNSI, creating an unfair advantage for the company,” according to the findings of an investigation by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which was then led by Buddy Caldwell. After a grand jury deliberated for more than 18 months, it ultimately returned those nine charges of felony perjury in June of 2014.
Caldwell’s office announced that Greenstein had changed a policy in order to ensure CNSI was eligible for the contract and that CNSI undercut its competitors by submitting a significantly lower bid, only to add millions back into the contract once it was awarded.
Greenstein resigned only months after the state of Louisiana decided to cancel CNSI’s contract, but the controversy was far from over.
“This major contract to service our seniors and most vulnerable citizens of the state was first entered into unfairly under Greenstein’s control,” Attorney General Caldwell announced at the time. “He then knowingly lied under oath to the legislature and the citizens of the state about his improper communication with CNSI in order to cover up his wrongdoing. This type of behavior has no place in state government, and he will be held accountable.”
Caldwell would never make good on that promise. The following year, he was ousted from office by former Congressman Jeff Landry, who ordered a re-evaluation of the case. Greenstein had consistently pleaded innocence.
CNSI, for its part, sued the state of Louisiana for “bad faith breach of contract,” a case that was finally settled in July of 2016, with the state agreeing to change the language of its termination from “due to bad faith” to “due to convenience” and to arbitrate the value of any work CNSI had provided prior to termination.
Two months prior, in April of 2016, Attorney General Jeff Landry made a stunning decision to drop all charges against Greenstein, despite the fact that they were the result of an exhaustive 18-month deliberation by a grand jury. In explaining their justification, Assistant Attorney General Brandon Fremin cryptically referenced “factors outside the control of the current attorney general [Jeff Landry]” and argued that new legal filings would have complicated the state’s case against Greenstein. He also claimed that “there was a factual basis for the grand jury to return the indictment [against Greenstein] on September 23, 2014” without explaining what specifically led Landry’s office to drop the case.
As Chief Technology Officer, Greenstein will be responsible for, among other things, the acquisition of information technology software. The Department of Health and Human Services notes, “Given the expansion and impactful role of digital services throughout government, there are many opportunities to improve existing acquisition methods used to support government services, directly benefiting the public.”