Interior submits MMS reorganization plan to Congress
On Thursday, Interior officials submitted their plan for restructuring the department's offshore energy responsibilities formerly under the Minerals Management Service into three new bureaus focused on resource management; safety and environmental oversight; and revenue collection and enforcement.
"The reform and reorganization is based on the premise that the missions formerly carried out by the Minerals Management Service must be clearly defined and distinct from each other. In short, we must eliminate real and perceived conflicts within the organization," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
The reorganization plan outlines the missions, responsibilities and reporting chains for the three new bureaus: Ocean Energy Management; Safety and Environmental Enforcement; and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.
The three new bureaus eventually will replace the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, formerly MMS, which Salazar created in May with Secretarial Order No. 3299. BOEM is headed by Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general tapped by the White House to reform offshore energy management activities and oversee MMS' reorganization.
Interior officials noted the reorganization's timing and planning will be affected by the department's ongoing response to the Deepwater Horizon spill, which prompted the overhaul in the first place.
Under the plan, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue would be up and running first, possibly as soon as Oct 1. This would be done by transferring intact the existing Minerals Revenue Management function to the new bureau, which will report to the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.
The creation of the other two bureaus will be much more complex as it will require untangling the interconnected functions of the existing Offshore Energy and Minerals Management bureau. Planners anticipate needing six months of detailed analysis and planning before functions can be transferred. A phased implementation could begin as early as January 2011 and continue during the next 12 months.
The reorganization plan does not specify future staffing requirements of the new bureaus, but leaves that for the detailed analysis and planning process.
According to the plan's authors: "We must engage and involve employees, undertake detailed process mapping and design, address facilities needs, fully evaluate effects on budgets, evaluate existing employee skills, recruit new talent, and establish information technology plans."
The plan calls for administrative functions to be moved to the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget. It notes MMS has a unique and sophisticated information technology program and is in the process of implementing a new financial and business management system -- keeping those support services intact will be important to maintain ongoing operations during the reorganization, the plan advises.
"Reorganization is not the sole means of addressing the problems in offshore energy management, but it is an essential element of a broader program that includes major new safety requirements, investigation of the Deepwater Horizon accident, legislative and regulatory reform, and programs to enhance enforcement and inspection activity," the plan's authors said.