Lost in the midst of the "drill baby drill" energy debate is the role of the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) and just how poorly this troubled department manages federal oil and gas leases--though this isn't news to POGO blog readers. In a press release from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) issued yesterday, Issa criticizes House Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) for failing to continue to investigate MMS, despite the fact that MMS's poor management of leases has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
We know that Waxman is already investigating many important issues, but Issa's right--MMS does need more oversight. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Oversight Plan for this Congress promised that the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy would "conduct oversight in many long neglected areas of domestic policy" like MMS, but they have yet to conduct a single hearing on the matter. Issa's release also cites past findings that "MMS did not have the ability even to track how much oil was being produced or the revenues due the American taxpayer." The GAO has also repeatedly found that MMS cannot accurately account for its program's costs and benefits--casting some doubt on the profit report MMS released yesterday.
POGO has commended Issa for his tenacious oversight of MMS in the past, and we hope that this Congress will take his release to heart and continue investigating the agency.
-- Mandy Smithberger
UPDATE: It looks like Waxman has heeded our call for an oversight hearing on MMS.