Gould has also increased the auditing staff substantially. The number of audits performed by ONRR declined initially compared to the Bush years at MMS, from 339 in 2008 to 162 in 2010. But last year the team nearly doubled the number of audits, bringing the number back up to 311. The total amount of dollars recovered from compliance efforts, while rising, still lags behind the $176 million averaged annually during the Clinton administration.

The ONRR director believes that could be due to several factors, including the agency's willingness to impose substantial civil penalties on transgressors. Last summer, for example, Chevron was hit with a $1.1 million fine for claiming improper transportation deductions on offshore leases. "The companies are getting in line," Gould says. "If companies are complying up front, you're not going to see as much recovered in audits. Our goal is to collect every dollar due — no more, no less."

Randy Little is a bit too cynical to accept on face value the claim that energy companies that do business with the government are starting to follow the rules. He'd like to look at the books first. Nothing beats a detailed audit for catching fraud.

White hat: In January 2009 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar declared an end to "business as usual" at MMS, flanked by ethics czar Tom Strickland (left) and DOI Inspector General Earl Devaney.
Mark Manger
White hat: In January 2009 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar declared an end to "business as usual" at MMS, flanked by ethics czar Tom Strickland (left) and DOI Inspector General Earl Devaney.
Reduction in force: Days after auditor Bobby Maxwell's lawsuit against Kerr-McGee was unsealed, he lost his job at MMS.
John Johnston
Reduction in force: Days after auditor Bobby Maxwell's lawsuit against Kerr-McGee was unsealed, he lost his job at MMS.

"They can make those numbers come out any way they want to," Little says of the government's statistics. "The companies know what the regulations are. They know they're wrong, and they still do what they do."

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5 comments
Payton_vege
Payton_vege

Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

Sally Moore
Sally Moore

The federal government is stealing from us daily -- all under the hype of public good and public safety --- Salazer is a puppet for the 'big boy's -- just why he was appointed ... birds of a feather flock together --- they are trying to harness any creative energy this nation has and funnel all the funds to a few ... where have I heard that in political science ... wake up America

BobSchmetzer
BobSchmetzer

Big money draws thieves as much as a cow patty draws flys. When people work at a position of trust and violate that trust , they should be punished.The corporate criminals should be blackballed from doing business as a punishment along with a cash penality. This will always happen and we have to be vigilent and hire enough police and investigators. When corporations support candidates that say they want less regulation, they just don't want to get caught. If a business can't survive without stealing then they just didn't make it. Shut down!

taxbreak
taxbreak

Sounds like the sex happened on Bush's watch. But you make a great point, Mark.

Oil companies should not have to pay royalties for sucking up product from public lands because, hey, that will raise prices at the pump.

Oil companies shouldn't pay taxes on their billions in profits because that will raise prices, too.

Oil company executives shouldn't be required to pay personal income taxes, either, because they'll just jack up prices.

Multinational companies like BP and Royal Dutch Shell should just be allowed to commit fraud and pollute and pillage and do whatever they want. Just so long as we can afford to fill up our tanks, it doesn't matter what it costs us in the long run.

We need more clear thinking like this.

Mark Roberts
Mark Roberts

Call it what it is, an arm of the IRS that makes the price higher at the pump. As far as the sex was Bill Clinton incharge?

 
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