Interior Secretary Pledges Reform

By Derek Kravitz and Mary Pat Flaherty
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 12, 2008

The Interior Department promised yesterday to reform the division that collects billions of dollars in royalties from oil and gas companies in the wake of a report that its employees took gifts and engaged in sex and drug use with their clients.

"I am outraged by the immoral behavior, illegal activities and appalling misconduct of several former and current long-serving career employees in the Minerals Management Service's royalty-in-kind program," Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said. "These individuals have eroded the trust the American citizens deserve to have in their public servants."

Kempthorne said his office began immediately taking disciplinary action against employees identified in the report. The director of the Minerals Management Agency, Randall B. Luthi, plans to institute a random drug-testing program, an Interior Department spokesman said.

On Wednesday the department's inspector general, Earl B. Devaney, issued reports documenting what investigators called "a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" among government workers in the program, based near Denver, which oversaw the collection of more than $4 billion worth of royalties last year from energy companies drilling on federal or Indian land or offshore.

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