The Reorganization of the Former MMS

On May 19, 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a Secretarial Order dividing the Minerals Management Service (MMS) into three independent entities to better carry out its three missions of 1) ensuring the balanced and responsible development of energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); 2) ensuring safe and environmentally responsible exploration and production and enforcing applicable rules and regulations; and 3) ensuring a fair return to the taxpayer from offshore royalty and revenue collection and disbursement activities. 

MMS was renamed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to more accurately describe the scope of the organization’s oversight. Michael R. Bromwich, was chosen to lead BOEMRE in June 2010 to reform the government’s regulation of offshore energy development and the agency responsible for it.

An implementation plan published by the Department of the Interior in July 2010 called for restructuring the department’s offshore energy management responsibilities, detailing a transition that would begin as early as October 1 and be completed in 2011.

In the place of the former MMS – and to replace  BOEMRE – we have created three strong, independent agencies with clearly defined roles and missions. MMS – with its conflicting missions of promoting resource development, enforcing safety regulations, and maximizing revenues from offshore operations and lack of resources – could not keep pace with the challenges of overseeing industry operating in U.S. waters.

The reorganization of the former MMS is designed to remove those conflicts by clarifying and separating missions across three agencies and providing each of the new agencies with clear missions and additional  resources necessary to fulfill those missions. As we implement these organizational changes, all Bureaus are taking into account the crucial need for information-sharing and the other connections among the functions of the former MMS. This is essential to ensure that the regulatory processes related to offshore leasing, plan approval, and permitting are not adversely affected.

Implementation

On October 1, 2010, the bureau completed the transfer of the revenue collection function. The Office of Natural Resources Revenue now resides under the jurisdiction of DOI’s Office of Policy, Management and Budget. The final stage of the reorganization of BOEMRE will become effective October 1, 2011 when its splits  into two independent entities: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

On October 1, 2011, the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was created. BOEM is responsible for managing development of the nation’s offshore resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way. Functions include: Leasing, Plan Administration, Environmental Studies, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Analysis, Resource Evaluation, Economic Analysis and the Renewable Energy Program.
Also on October 1, 2011, the new Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) was created to enforce safety and environmental regulations. Functions include: All field operations including Permitting and Research, Inspections, Offshore Regulatory Programs, Oil Spill Response, and newly formed Training and Environmental Compliance functions.

Specifically, the separation of BOEM and BSEE:

  • Separates resource management from safety oversight to allow permitting engineers and inspectors greater independence, more budgetary autonomy and clearer senior leadership focus. The goal is to create a tough-minded but fair regulator that can effectively evaluate and keep pace with the risks and challenges of offshore drilling and will promote the development of safety cultures in offshore operators.
  • Provides a structure that ensures that robust environmental analyses are conducted and that the potential environmental effects of proposed operations are given appropriate weight during decision-making related to resource management in BOEM and ensures that leasing and plan approval activities are properly balanced. These processes must be both rigorous and efficient so that operations can go forward in a timely manner with a complete understanding of their potential environmental impacts and appropriate mitigation of  those potential environmental effects are in place.
  • Strengthens the role of environmental review and analysis in both organizations through various structural and organizational mechanisms. Those include:
    • The creation of a first-ever Chief Environmental Officer in BOEM;
    • Separating Environmental reviews from Leasing in the regions in BOEM;
    • The development of a new Environmental Compliance and enforcement function in BSEE; and
    • More prominent Oil Spill Response Plan review and enforcement in BSEE.  

For a Fact Sheet on the BOEM-BSEE separation please click here.

Continued Process Improvements

Multiple reviews and investigations, including by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General, the Department’s Safety Oversight Board, and multiple Committees of the House and Senate, have highlighted the need for reform in the way the agency does business and in the way oil and gas operations are carried out on the OCS. In response, BOEMRE created a number of implementation teams, which have been hard at work for several months analyzing critical aspects of BOEMRE’s structures, functions and processes, and implementing needed changes.  BOEM and BSEE will continue the work of these teams, to ensure that new processes put in place are sustained, and that ongoing improvements are made.