President Obama has selected Michael Bromwich as his new watchdog for the oil and gas industry. Bromwich’s selection coincided with Interior Secretary Salazar’s announcement that he is restructuring the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and renaming the agency Bromwich will lead as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
Although Bromwich has no experience dealing with the oil and gas industry, the flip side is that he has no ties to the oil and gas industry. That’s probably a good thing. Bromwich has the investigative and prosecutorial experience that may well be needed to clean-up the federal agency responsible for overseeing oil and gas exploration and drilling.
The Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General recently issued reports revealing that MMS officials improperly accepted gifts, engaged in illegal drug use and sexual activities with drilling company officials. Beyond issues of corruption, we need someone like Mike Bromwich to look at the April 20, 2010 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform for potentially criminal conduct, including criminal negligence.
Bromwich’s resume includes high profile positions. He worked for Rudy Giuliani as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, served an Associate Counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation in the late 1980s, and was the Justice Department’s Inspector General during the 1990s under President Clinton.
In announcing Bromwich’s appointment, President Obama said that Bromwich’s mission “is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog — not its partner.” We all need to wish Michael Bromwich well as he takes on this very challenging assignment. I had the honor of working for him during all five years of his tenure as the Department of Justice Inspector General. He was a good leader who set the bar high for his employees. He was tough but fair – and seemed to have an good grasp of the big picture. Best wishes, sir. The American people are counting on you.