BOE is us, says the MMS

By Al Kamen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's only Day 64 of the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, but there's proof the government is ratcheting up efforts to end it.

First sign is that the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has adopted a new name: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement -- or Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE) for short.

This is something that discredited or corrupt government offices or companies do when they become inconveniently infamous. For example, Blackwater became Xe; the Philip Morris cancer company became Altria; AIG now is AIU Holdings; the evil KGB, where Russian President Vladimir Putin spent his career, became the "democratic" Russia's FSB; and so on.

The second important sign is that the agency is staffing up to confront this calamity. The MMS/OBE announced Thursday that it is looking to hire one "Emergency Oil Spill Response Coordinator," working out of beautiful Herndon, Va., and earning $75,000 to $97,000 a year. For that gigantic salary, you'll be the one who "leads MMS representatives on the U.S. Coast Guard's Interagency Alternative Technology Assessment Program."

But while the job is so very important, and hardly anyone seems able to do it, you should be aware up front that "RELOCATION EXPENSES ARE NOT AUTHORIZED."

Not anyone can do this job well, of course. So there are a number of "Key Requirements," including: "Applicants must be U.S. Citizens" and undergo a background investigation. Anticipate "traveling 1-5 nights per month, on average," and you'll have to accept "federal payments made by direct deposit."

Not even a bus ticket? Some packing tape?

Of fires and frying pans

Speaking of the BOE, another thing you typically see when accidents happen is that the person in charge gets the ax. So the agency's new chief, Michael R. Bromwich, former federal prosecutor and Justice Department inspector general, sent a "Hello to All of You" e-mail Monday morning to the BOE's 1,700 employees.

"Two weeks ago this is the last thing I thought I would be doing," he began, joining the crowd stunned by the appointment. "But here I am -- Fate never quite reveals what it has in store of any of us." Indeed.

Bromwich noted that, "as you probably know, most of the issues this organization deals with are new to me. I am not foolish enough to pretend that I know things that I do not." Actually, he's a very smart guy. Bromwich said he wanted to learn from the troops and "although I am new to the agency, I think I do have some relevant experience" dealing with troubled institutions, and "I understand that morale in this organization is very low." He then detailed his years working to improve other organizations.

He didn't mention his most recent work as a partner in legal megafirm Fried Frank, which many call a sweatshop. Good experience for working on an oil rig, in the mines . . .

The dough business

Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, out of a halfway house after 43 months in federal prison, is back in the restaurant business, working at a Baltimore pizzeria, according to the Jewish Times of Baltimore.

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