BOE is us, says the MMS

By Al Kamen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 23, 2010; A15

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.

Abramoff, who once owned a fancy restaurant and a truly awful kosher deli in the nation's capital, is working at Tov Pizza, helping its owner "in almost all areas of the pizza business, with perhaps a focus on marketing strategies," the paper reported.

After Orszag

With all the people mentioned as top candidates to run the Office of Management and Budget when Director Peter Orszag leaves next month, you'd think it was a super-fun job. (Orszag is said to be going to the world of Wall Street and hedge funds to make big bucks for the growing family.) The administration has had plenty of time -- a summer departure had been rumored for months -- to work up a long list of names.

We're told that Laura Tyson, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration, may be the front-runner, but she's more a big-picture economist than a detailed budgeteer. A good bet for the job is Office of Personnel Management chief John Berry, seen as a star over there and one of the stars in the Obama world overall. He was a top official at Interior and Treasury during Clinton, has wanted the OMB job for a long time and has already been confirmed by the Senate. What's more, he's got key experience for the job, having run the National Zoo.

Top Clinton administration economic adviser Gene Sperling, now at Treasury, got high marks for his work on Obama's small-business health-care initiative and has already been vetted for the post of deputy OMB director, so he could step up one notch. Rob Nabors, who recently had been OMB deputy director, is very highly regarded and trusted in the West Wing. Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, who headed the OMB under Clinton, when there was a surplus, and has been chief operating officer of New York University, is said to be a serious possibility. When we demurred -- it would be the same old job he once had -- the response was that this would put him in the Cabinet.

Guess that counts for something.

The new kids

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed 63 Obama administration nominees, many of whom had languished for months awaiting final approval after the resolution of a dispute over the National Labor Relations Board. The Senate confirmed Brian Hayes, a GOP nominee for the board, as well as Mark Pearce, a Democrat who had been given a recess appointment. But the Senate did not confirm NLRB Chairman Craig Becker, on the board via a recess appointment, for a full term. Without Senate action, Becker can serve only until the end of 2011.

Those confirmed include Jim Esquea, to be assistant secretary for legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services; Ann Stock, to be assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs; Patricia Hoffman, to be assistant secretary of energy for electricity delivery and energy; David Mineta, to be deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and Michael McCord, as principal deputy undersecretary of defense (comptroller). For the full list, see And for an updated tally of Obama's top appointees, see

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