By Al Kamen
Wednesday, June 30, 2010; A15
Given the news these days of the endlessly spewing oil in the gulf, you might ask: Can't the folks at the Interior Department's old Minerals Management Service get anything right? Well, maybe not.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed an executive order last week that reorganized and renamed the MMS, which oversaw oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, christening it the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement. The department, in an announcement, noted a shorthand version: Bureau of Ocean Energy, or BOE.
In his "Hello" e-mail to MMS employees, new BOE chief Michael R. Bromwich also noted the name change to BOE, saying he hoped it would be "the first step in a series of more substantive and meaningful changes" in the near future.
Not so fast, James G. Anderson, the newly named organization's acting associate director for administration and budget, said in an e-mail Friday to the MMS executive committee (where we use italics, he used underlining -- and, in the second case, boldface as well):
"Please be advised that BOE should not be used as the abbreviation. . . . Until further notice, the abbreviation BOEMRE should be used. Administration division chiefs and program chiefs of staff have been included on this message so as they can disseminate this information to the appropriate points of contact." (Presumably that includes Bromwich.)
Anderson doesn't address proper pronunciation, but perhaps it should be "bummer."
Update! A few hours ago we got a press release from Interior now using the acronym BOEM for the new bureau. This is much better, since BOE, in the oil and gas world, is understood as an acronym that means "barrel of oil equivalent," which is used to summarize the amount of energy that is equivalent to the amount found in a barrel of crude.All this can be yours
Meanwhile, the enviro group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is auctioning off original MMS memorabilia accumulated over the years. Yes, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have your own piece of this bureaucratic Enron.
There's the usual assortment of gym bags, pins, lanyards, 25th-anniversary laptop bags and such. But then there are the truly coveted items, such as "Petey, the Petroleum-Loving Whale" -- actually, PEER made that name up -- a little rubber toy whale embossed with "MMS Environmental Studies Program," starting bid $50.
There's the exquisitely timed MMS "Oil Drop Paperweight," a 2 1/2 -inch acrylic square containing an oil droplet from off the Alaska coast ($125), as well as a particular favorite, the "Antimicrobial Telephone Pad" with, for the truly phobic, an MMS hand sanitizer (both for $50). These are prized historically, being from the last-ever MMS Safety Day, in 2009. (This year's luncheon for safety awards, scheduled for May 3, was canceled after the April 20 calamity.)
Our top choice, though, is the beautifully framed Al Gore Hammer Award for high-performing federal employees ($100). This one was for the agency's Innovative Achievements Program acknowledging the agency's and staff's commitment to customer service, PEER said. (No, this was given in 1997, long before that IG report of an MMS staffer having sex with an oil company employee.) The message from Gore reads: "Thanks for building a government that works better and costs less!" Ah, yes.
Bidding begins Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. and closes July 7 at 9 a.m. We'll update as needed. (P.S.: PEER is looking for other precious memorabilia -- T-shirts, windbreakers, mugs, etc. -- to use in future auctions.)Personality parade
First prize for this week's Fleet Feat award goes to movie-industry PR man Warren Betts, who runs a company called Zoomwerks. Betts jumped all over the strange Russian espionage story as soon as it broke Monday and e-mailed reporters to point out the "amazing timing" of the FBI arrests with the "movie SALT coming up starring Angelina Jolie which is about this very subject!" Imagine.
"However," Betts adds, "I wanted to shoot you a quick line to say if you want to talk to Tom Ridge (former head of Homeland Security)" -- now in the security consulting business -- "or Melissa Mahle (former CIA operative) both are working with us on the upcoming movie SALT. Let me know?"
For reporters too captivated by the Kagan nomination hearings to have noticed the news, Betts attached a copy of a wire story on the spy arrests.The rules still apply
Good news for K Street lobbyists! The Gatekeeper, Dr. No himself, the White House ethics czar and enforcer of the no-jobs-for-lobbyists rules, Norman L. Eisen, has, as expected, been officially nominated to be ambassador to the Czech Republic and live in that spectacular residence in beautiful Prague.
Best to keep the corks in the champagne a bit longer, however. Eisen, an Obama law school chum and founder of the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, still has to be confirmed by the Senate. That appears quite likely, but these things, as we know, take time these days. More disturbing, a White House official says that the effort of "reducing special interest influence in Washington" would continue in the post-Eisen era.Proper!
While fears about "burrowing" -- political types sliding into career jobs -- run especially high during presidential-election years, a new study by the Government Accountability Office has found only seven cases of burrowing during the Bush administration, none of them near the 2008 election. The GAO looked at "conversions," or movement from political to civil service positions, from May 2005 and May 2009, finding only 139. Of those, the GAO found only seven that were clearly improper. (We've always thought such conversions were almost by definition improper, inherently subject to chicanery and so on, but never mind.)