Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Dirty Laundry of D.O.I.

Most people assume working for a government bureaucracy is boring, and usually that’s true. It can be at times seem to move at a snail’s pace, doing things backwards, using technology and processes from centuries ago, but every once in awhile those bureaucrats decide to party it up, such as the Department of Interior. A recent scandal was exposed yesterday at said DOI, in the Minerals Management department, whose function is to sell off American oil and gas reserves to the private companies. Although the majority of the wrongdoing went on in the satellite office in Denver, it did extend its reach to Washington D.C. Apparently, for sometime now; employees had been receiving perks from Chevron and other oil companies such as sporting event tickets, free booze, and invitations to fancy events. Two federal employees went to a golf tournament, and were so intoxicated they had to stay at the resort rather than go home. Additionally, one manager was buying cocaine and sleeping with 2 of his secretaries. The woman in D.C. responsible for the satellite office helped steer a contract to a former employee, who before leaving federal service wrote the contract so that it basically detailed exactly his roles and responsibilities with the agency. Probably the worse part was that the Feds in charge of negotiating the contracts would allow the oil companies to renegotiate prices down after awarding the contract to a loss of over $4 million.

I love a good federal scandal, but this also proves another point which I feel is not often mentioned: regardless of who is in office, or who wins the election, the bureaucracy keeps chugging along doing what its always done with very little outside oversight. In most of the agencies, the inspector general’s office is responsible for auditing and investigating thousands with an office of dozens. And, when the wrongdoing is widespread enough too many people become involved for whistleblowers to feel comfortable in telling their story. Even in the DOI situation complaints were filed as far back as 2 ½ years ago. Most people do not want to risk retaliation, especially when it will take so long for an investigation to finish. The federal government is not unique in its size, and unmanageability, it is seen in many large states, counties, cities, and school districts. The amazing part is that when politicians talk about government waste they rarely point their fingers at the bureaucrats, probably because they know they’re voters too.

1 comment:

betsey said...

This is crazy! I haven't heard about this yet, but I'll have to look into it! Your point about the bureaucracy is really interesting, and something I hadn't really thought too much about. Always keeping me informed Jess!