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May 25, 2010

IG report slams MMS inspectors links with industry

The Department of the Interior Inspector General has released a report into allegations that Minerals Management Service (MMS) employees at the Lake Charles District Office had accepted gifts from oil-and gas production companies.

The conduct in question occurred prior to 2007.

In a covering letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Acting Inspector General Mary L. Kendall says she is releasing the report ahead of the normal response period noting that "given the events of April 20 of this year [The Deepwater Horizon explosion], this report had become anything but routine, and I feel compelled to release it now."

The focus of the report is on the relationships between MMS inspectors and industry.

"Of greatest concern to me," writes the Acting Inspector General "is the environment in which these inspectors operate - particularly the ease with which they move between industry and government. While not included in our report, we discovered that the individuals involved in the fraternizing and gift exchange - both government and industry - have often known one another since childhood. Their relationships were formed well before they took their jobs with industry or government. MMS relies on the ability to hire employees with industry experience. I am pleased that MMS has advised us that it will enhance ethics training specifically for its inspectors to address this unique industry/government dilemma, and will establish controls, like a two year waiting period, to minimize the potential for conflicts of interest."

You can read the report HERE


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