The Project On Government Oversight welcomed the news today that federal investigators at the Department of Interior OIG have documented evidence that employees at the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) have accepted gifts, ski vacations, and sex from industry personnel. The charges illustrate the improper relationship between the regulatory agency and the oil and gas industry that it is tasked with over-seeing. This cozy relationship with the industry has been the subject of several inquiries in recent years.
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman, Energy and Natural Resources Committee had requested the OIG investigation.
Sources have told POGO that three Department of Interior OIG reports show systemic and reckless abuse at MMS that extends to its leadership, explicitly naming retired Associate Director Lucy Denett as being responsible for contract rigging contract at the agency.
“Given the billions of dollars at stake, and number of people involved, this is easily the worst instance of government misconduct that POGO has seen,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of POGO.
The IG’s findings confirm POGO’s earlier reports that Denett rigged a contract to allow a former MMS employee, Jimmy Mayberry, to work as a consultant for MMS. These allegations provide further insight into how MMS has failed its mission to collect royalties owed on federal oil and gas leases on behalf of taxpayers.
For several years, POGO has been monitoring and reporting the department’s gross mismanagement of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) office.