Thursday, September 11, 2008

Surprised? Regulators in bed with Regulated!

The DOJ’s inspector general’s office, run by Glenn Fine, has had one heckuva busy summer, throwing much of its resources at investigations into the legacy of political meddling at the Department. But the Interior Department’s inspector general, Earl Devaney (pictured), has been busy too. The big news today, via the WSJ: Employees of the federal agency that last year collected more than $11 billion in royalties from oil and gas companies broke government rules and created a “culture of ethical failure” by allegedly accepting gifts from and having sex with industry representatives.

A report by Devaney describes a party atmosphere at the Denver office of the Minerals Management Service, a bureau of the Interior Department. Some employees of the office, which houses the department’s royalty-in-kind program, “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relations with oil and gas company representatives,” the report says, adding that “sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length.”

The report also says that between 2002 and 2006, 19 employees in the agency’s royalty-in-kind program, roughly a third of the program’s total staff, had “socialized with and had received a wide array of gifts from oil and gas companies with whom the employees were conducting official business.” Devaney’s report said: “We discovered a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity.”

We know what you’re thinking: What’s the Minerals Management Service? As the WSJ notes, it oversees the nation’s natural-gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf. Its duties include drawing up leases for drilling in offshore waters. Through the royalty-in-kind, or RIK, program, the government receives oil instead of cash payments from energy companies in exchange for drilling rights.

-Report: ‘A Culture of Substance Abuse, Promiscuity’ at Oil & Gas Agency


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