US Oil Program Troubled: Report

Management issues plague Interior Dept. collection service
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2007 4:58 PM CDT
U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, right, speaks at dedication ceremonies for the Central High School National Historic Site Visitors Center in Little Rock, Ark., Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, as, from...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – An Interior Department report has found that the internal program responsible for collecting $10 billion per year from companies that drill on US land is plagued by unethical practices and mismanagement. The report cited “profound failure,” and said the agency—which is years behind in its billing—wasn’t sufficiently independent from oil and gas companies, the New York Times reports.

The investigation was spurred by four agency auditors, who filed their own lawsuits against oil companies after claiming officials had blocked them from collecting unpaid monies. One auditor lost his job within a week after his lawsuit became public. The report said critics had reason to fear for their jobs; it did not, however, accuse top officials of wrongdoing.