Washington, DC — The U.S. Minerals Management has become so infamous through the BP oil spill that the Obama administration decided to break up the former agency into fragments, each with a new name. Last week, the largest MMS fragment was officially renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, responsible for both leasing and environmental and safety reviews.
Now there is confusion as to what to call the new agency with its convoluted title, according to internal e-mails released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In introducing himself to the staff on June 21, the new director Michael Bromwich indicated that henceforth the agency would be known as BOE. Days later, on June 25, James Anderson, the agency’s Acting Associate Director for Administration & Budget, sent out the following e-mail under the tab “Importance: High”:
“Please be advised that BOE should not be used as the abbreviation for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement. Until further notice the abbreviation BOEMRE should be used. Administration Division Chief’s and Program Chiefs of Staff have been included on this message so as they can disseminate this information to the appropriate points of contact.” [Emphasis in original]
“Talk about fiddling while the Gulf dies--the new ‘reform’ leadership is having high-level meetings to decide which acronym to use. Hardly a promising beginning,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization has contended that the MMS break-up papers over deeper dysfunctions within the Interior Department, the MMS parent agency. “Best I can tell the thinking behind choosing the most ponderous and unwieldy acronym possible is to discourage future media coverage. The truer acronym, therefore, should be BORE, as in ‘People, there is no story here; this is just a BORE’.”
As the Interior Department is trying to erase any sign that MMS ever existed, PEER today began auctioning off MMS knick-knacks donated by employees to commemorate the agency’s passing. Auctioned items include MMS safety whistles, oil drop paperweights, embossed lunch bags, computer cases, pen sets and other never-to-seen-again bureaucratic flotsam.
“The abolition of MMS is like the governmental equivalent of Enron’s collapse. These kitschy souvenirs exhibit a blithe cluelessness that helps explain the agency mindset,” Ruch added, urging buyers to act while limited supplies last. “For example, what was the focus of the 2009 Safety Week at MMS? Well, if you guessed diet conscious snacks, you would be correct.”
Today PEER also wrote to BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich urging him not to destroy the mountains of other MMS memorabilia (coffee cups, windbreakers, flashlights, etc.). The materials should be recycled or donated to charity. PEER has offered to hold future auctions.