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.