Since it was created nine months ago, the Minerals Management Service has made "significant progress" in reducing fraud and abuse in the Interior Department's $5 billion-a-year mineral royalty collection program, according to the office's director, Harold E. Doley Jr.
Doley said his office had collected $37 million in royalties that previously had been uncollected, reviewed 700 energy leases on federal and Indian land, and implemented 40 of the 60 recommendations made by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by President Reagan to examine the program.
Last January, the presidential panel said the government had lost $650 million during 1981 because of the sloppy way that the U.S. Geological Survey operated the collections. The panel said the survey "simply trusted" companies to pay the government its share of profits from oil, gas, coal, geothermal and other leases.
A week after the panel made its report, Interior Secretary James G. Watt created the minerals service to oversee the royalty program. Doley said his office should have a new fiscal accounting system in place by January that will allow it to monitor well production and sales information. It also is auditing four major lease holders and reviewing another 600 smaller leases. Overall, the government collects royalties from 150,000 leases, he said.
The presidential panel, the Commission on Fiscal Accountability of the Nation's Energy Resources, will review Interior's progress in January.