May 29th, 2010
01:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Troubled agency gets acting director

An acting director has replaced Elizabeth Birnbaum as head of the Minerals Management Service.
An acting director has replaced Elizabeth Birnbaum as head of the Minerals Management Service.

(CNN) – An acting director was settling into the top job Saturday at the troubled Minerals Management Service, which is involved in federal oversight of offshore oil drilling.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Bob Abbey would become acting director even as he retains his role as director of the federal Bureau of Land Management.

The previous director, Elizabeth Birnbaum, resigned Thursday, Salazar said. Two sources told CNN that she was fired.

"Bob Abbey's recent leadership on onshore energy reforms is exactly the kind of experience we need as we continue to reform and begin to restructure" the service, Salazar said in a statement. "I appreciate Bob's willingness to help tackle this crisis in the Gulf."

Abbey will begin to manage the re-organization of the Minerals and Management Service into three separate agencies. Salazar has unveiled plans to divide the agency's energy development, enforcement and revenue collection divisions, saying they have "conflicting missions."

A recent federal report highlighted what many observers have characterized as widespread corruption at the agency.

The Interior Department's inspector general released the report. It revealed that federal inspectors overseeing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accepted meals and tickets to sporting events from companies they monitored.

Salazar recently called the allegations of MMS corruption "evidence of the cozy relationship between some elements of [the agency] and the oil and gas industry."

He pledged to follow through with the Interior Department inspector general's recommendations, "including taking any and all appropriate personnel actions including termination, discipline and referrals of any wrongdoing for criminal prosecution."

The Minerals Management Service collected nearly $10 billion in royalties from the energy and mining industries in 2009.


Filed under: MMS
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. ib

    An acting director; figures; should fit right in with the other far left looney tune people including Obama.

    May 29, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. D.

    In this administration they are all just "acting" so it is proper to nominate 'acting director".
    When will they start doing things? and yes...
    I am sure President Clinton will also do some acting, saying: "I never offered a position in the administration to this man" (if it were the previous administration we would get a different type of coverage of this).

    May 29, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Hammerer

    Hurry, need another fall guy.

    May 29, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. Bob

    There's not an agency in our government that isn't "troubled". But we only see it first hand when the stuff hits the fan – and always too late. Harvard could write volumes of case studies by just studying our own incompentent government. It makes any toubled private sector company look like a winner.

    May 29, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    The Obstructions keep refusing to allow votes on Department heads within the admin. Even those needed for National Security.

    Vote out every obstructionist running in November. We can get rid of the rest of them in 2012.

    Make them know they work FOR US - THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, NOT JUST 23% (or the minority), and not for corporations.

    May 29, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Karl in Charleston,SC

    As the oil gushes into the Gulf, the finger pointing continues.

    May 29, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. BeverlyNC

    I hope this man is not another Republican oilman. When the worst abuses of safety rules were being ignored was under an oilman that Dick Cheney personally appointed as head of MMS.

    Want to look for the source of BP's record of safety violations, spills, and worker deaths – look to the "Drill Baby Drill" Republicans. They deregulated the oil industry, the banking industry, the drug industry etc and every single one led to disasterous results.

    Where are the Republicans on this spill? Why are they not down in the Gulf cleaning up the oil they love? Not one has expressed outrage over what BP has done and many in Congress are trying to protect BP in how much money they should have to pay for the cleanup.

    This is why we need to get rid of all Republicans up for election in November. They are anti-American, anti-environment, anti-recovery, and only support abusive greedy corporations. If you stand up for BP, a foreign-owned company, then you are a traitor to America and our People. It's time to clean the corrupt and do-nothing lying racist Republicans out of our government. Name one thing they have done for this country this year – NOTHING but tell lies about President Obama. Liars and hypocrites all.

    May 29, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |