SEPTEMBER 11, 2008
Public officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties for the U.S. government rigged contracts, secretly worked for oil companies as consultants and accepted valuable gifts from the massive firms they were supposedly overseeing.
The government officials, all working for the U.S. Department of the Interior, also engaged in illicit sex with employees of the companies they were charged with monitoring and regularly accepted costly golf and ski trips as well as fancy dinners. With nearly 70,000 employees and a $16 billion annual budget, the Interior Department is the country’s principle conservation agency and it manages about one-fifth of the nation’s land.
The division that handles oil revenues has been plagued with trouble in recent years for mismanaging collection of fees from oil companies and writing faulty contracts for drilling offshore and on public land. Those issues were overshadowed with this week’s scandalous exposé, however.
Three scathing reports published by the agency’s inspector general describe a wild, nonstop party atmosphere completely lacking ethics. In fact, the inspector general referred to the crisis as a culture of ethical failure, substance abuse and promiscuity by individuals wholly lacking in acceptance of or adherence to government ethical standards. View the reports by clicking here, here and here.
Hundreds of witnesses were interviewed and nearly half a million pages of documents and electronic mail were obtained in the investigation, which took more than two years. Among its scandalous revelations is that violators often escape administrative action by leaving federal service with the usual celebratory send offs that highlight impeccable service to the federal government.
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