Did She Jump or Was She Pushed?

S. Elizabeth Birnbaum, the director of the agency that’s supposed to regulated drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Minerals Management Service, has apparently been fired:

Washington (CNN) — Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum has been fired, according to two CNN sources.

A senior administration official has told CNN that an official announcement will be made during President Barack Obama’s news conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The decision to fire Birnbaum comes in the wake of a recently released report highlighting what many observers have characterized as widespread corruption at the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which is part of the Interior Department.

Ms. Birnbaum, an Ivy League educated attorney, was appointed to the post a little less than a year ago amid a scandal in the agency involving graft, sex. and drugs. Since then she’s been criticized for doing little to reform the agency which is coming under even more criticism as concerns over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico grow. Some news services are reporting that she resigned. It seems pretty clear that she was fired.

This is so paradigmatic of the present administration that it’s hard for me to see how the White House will escape criticism. It’s one thing to complain about the incompetence of the Bush Administration. It’s another to know about problems in an agency and not do a great deal about them. The MMS has been having problems for over a decade. It’s problems not only precede this administration, they’ve been there throughout the Bush Administration and might precede it as well. An apparatchik with little actual experience is appointed and, unsurprisingly, doesn’t make a great deal of headway in cleaning up a dirty agency.

Prediction: the MMS will be abolished and its responsibilities split among several other agencies. Most of the same people will remain in place.

8 comments… add one
  • Prediction: the MMS will be abolished and its responsibilities split among several other agencies. Most of the same people will remain in place.

    No it wont. A new agency will be created that will work with the MMS, but in reality the work will largely be duplicated.

    Disolving a federal agency…now that is really funny.

  • I actually think it’s going to be split into oil and other.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The Secretary of Interior announced last week that MMS was going to be split into three different bureaus. This was in response to at least the problem of Interior having conflicting objectives, such as maximizing resource development, maximizing revenue and protecting the environment.

  • Thanks, PD. I missed that. Terminating the director makes all the more sense in that case.

  • PD Shaw Link

    I think it’s still a mystery. She was supposed to be present at the Congressional hearing this morning. The pre-filed testimony of the Secretary of Interior (pdf dated yesterday) indicates that he is here today with Liz Birnbaum. So I assume last night she was going to be at the hearing. The pre-filed testimony also indicates that the heads of the three new divisions had alrady been named and none of those names was Birnbaum.

    I wonder if she was offered the Secretary of Navy position and the administration welched on it.

  • “Most of the same people will remain in place.”

    Typical now, for a bureaucracy, isn’t it? I mean why would they cut down on the number of employees? Govt is providing the jobs now, while ‘the foot is to the neck’ of the private sector. More govt jobs, more money, more power. dump em, I say!.
    Will Obama step in here and slash waste, incompetence, employee by employee? yea. right.
    and I’m a democrat!

  • Change you can believe in. I tell ya, I’m voting for Barry next election…either that or I’m staying home and enjoying a glass of scotch.

  • steve Link

    ” I’m staying home and enjoying a glass of scotch.”

    Might as well. The alternative is a party that will only vote for tax cuts and then watch the debt rise. Be nice to have better alternatives.


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