June 15, 2010
Obama picks new MMS head
Today, President Barack Obama announced his selection of Michael R. Bromwich to lead the Administration's efforts to accelerate reforms in the regulation and oversight of offshore oil drilling.
A White House announcement said that Mr. Bromwich "will lead the effort to reform the Minerals Management Service (MMS), restoring integrity and rigor to the relationship between federal regulatory officials and oil companies."
Mr. Bromwich is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Justice Department Inspector General. The White House describes him as "a national leader in taking broken agencies, applying rigorous reforms and oversight, and seeing positive results. His work has led to significant improvements in a variety of organizations ranging from Federal agencies to local police departments in Houston and Washington."
Mr.Bromwich will develop the plans for a new oversight structure, replacing long-standing, inadequate practices with a gold-standard approach for environmental and safety regulation. He has a mandate to implement far-reaching change and will have the resources to accomplish that change.
"For a decade or more, the cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency was allowed to go unchecked. That allowed drilling permits to be issued in exchange not for safety plans, but assurances of safety from oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore," President Obama said.
Specifically, Mr. Bromwich will oversee the reorganization of the MMS to eliminate conflicts among the different missions of the agency which include establishing safety standards, regulating industry compliance, and collecting royalties. These actions will ensure that there is no conflict of interest, real or perceived, in oil industry oversight. Secretary Salazar has announced plans to split MMS into three new divisions - the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue - the most significant in a series of Interior Department reforms launched since January 2009.
The White House says that Mr. Bromwich's work will be based in part on the Interior Department's 30-day report on the safety and environmental precautions for offshore drilling rigs and the forthcoming recommendations of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.
Mr. Bromwich is a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C., and New York offices of Fried Frank where he heads the firm's Internal Investigations, Compliance and Monitoring practice group. Mr. Bromwich concentrates his practice on conducting internal investigations for private companies and other organizations; providing monitoring and oversight services in connection with public and private litigation and government enforcement actions; and representing institutions and individuals in white-collar criminal and regulatory matters.
In 2002, Mr. Bromwich was selected by the Department of Justice and the District of Columbia to serve as the Independent Monitor for the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), focusing on use of force, civil rights integrity, internal misconduct, and training issues. He served in that position until 2008 when MPD was determined to have achieved substantial compliance. In 2007, Mr. Bromwich was selected by the City of Houston to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the Houston Police Department Crime Lab; the investigation was widely praised for identifying serious problems in some of the Crime Lab's operations and providing recommendations for the Lab's improvement.
Prior to joining the law firm, Bromwich served as Inspector General for the Department of Justice from 1994 - 1999. As Inspector General, he headed the law enforcement agency principally responsible for conducting criminal and administrative investigations into allegations of corruption and misconduct involving the 120,000 employees of the Department of Justice. He was best known for conducting special investigations into allegations of misconduct, defective procedures and incompetence in the FBI Laboratory; the FBI's conduct and activities regarding the Aldrich Ames matter; the handling of classified information by the FBI and the Department of Justice in the campaign finance investigation; the alleged deception of a Congressional delegation by high-ranking officials of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; and the Justice Department's role in the CIA crack cocaine controversy.
Before his appointment as Inspector General, Mr. Bromwich served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and as Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra. Bromwich was one of three courtroom lawyers for the government in the case of United States v. Oliver L. North. Bromwich's other responsibilities in that office included supervising a team of prosecutors and law enforcement agents that investigated allegations of criminal misconduct against government officials and private citizens in connection with provision of aid to the Contras in Nicaragua and serving as overall coordinator of the Iran-Contra grand jury.
Mr. Bromwich received his law degree from the Harvard Law School in 1980 and a master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government the same year. He received his undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Harvard College in 1976.