So goes one of the less-substantive arguments POGO has heard in the debate over whether the oil industry should be involved in training academies for government regulators in the Department of the Interior.
POGO argues that having an industry train its counterparts in government regulatory bodies is a recipe for disaster, but, because it's Friday, we thought we'd look into the existing training at other agencies.
We found that there are seven permanent federal academies: the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Maritime, Navy, and FBI, and most relevant to the kind of work that Interior inspectors are doing, the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. And as far as amenities go, it doesn't seem that bad for the mining inspectors: racquetball court, table games, and a sauna. Oh, and "a full power panel to operate all heavy mine equipment and various other electrical test panels to be used in student instruction."
Last March the Department of Labor inspector general found that inspectors there weren't meeting their periodic retraining requirements, but maybe they didn't know they could play tennis between training sessions?
But in all seriousness, there are still unresolved questions when it comes to industry influence in training academies—and POGO hopes that the feds take care not to let the camels nose under the tent.
On July 15, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act (CLEAR) of 2009 to reform the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the defamed government regulator responsible for oversight of the offshore oil industry. The legislation requires the Secretary of the Interior to establish training academies for government regulators and inspectors.
-- Mandy Smithberger and Bryan Rahija