New boss parachuted into beleagured agency

Former federal prosecutor and Justice Department inspector general Michael Bromwich has been tapped to lead the troubled agency that oversees US offshore oil & gas leasing and regulatory compliance. Bromwich was sworn in as director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation & Enforcement, formerly the Minerals Management Service, 21 June.

As director, Bromwich will oversee an ambitious restructuring of the agency launched by the Obama administration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Bromwich succeeds Elizabeth Birnbaum, who stepped down as the bureau's director in May after serving less than a year in the post.

The agency has come under increasing fire since the disaster, with critics accusing the MMS of being too cozy with the industry it regulates. In May, the Obama administration ordered the agency to be restructured to create greater separation between its offshore licensing, revenue collection and safety & environmental enforcement functions.

Bromwich's CV is varied. He served as inspector general for the Department of Justice from 1994-99, was assistant US attorney in New York from 1983-87 and served as an associate to the independent counsel investigating the Iran-Contra scandal 1987-89.

Since 1999 he has been a partner with law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.

Bob Abbey had been filling in as interim MMS director since Birnbaum's departure. Abbey has since returned full-time to his post as director of the Bureau of Land Management, the Interior department agency that oversees oil & gas operations on land.

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