WASHINGTON, D.C. — A major step in the Department of the Interior’s plan to fundamentally restructure its mineral leasing, regulatory and revenue collection agencies occurred this week.
The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) was officially established within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget (PMB).
According to Secretarial Order No. 3306, the reassignment is intended to "improve the management and oversight of the royalty and revenue collection and disbursement activities."
The Revenue Watch Institute noted that the restructuring is overdue following the scandals over mismanagement and fraternization between regulators and industry employees by the Minerals Management Service (MMS).
This week’s action is part of the implementation of Secretary Salazar’s May 19 Secretarial Order separating the responsibilities previously performed by the MMS and reassigning those responsibilities to three separate organizations: the new Office of Natural Resources Revenue that became effective this week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).
The May announcement was followed by a June 18 Secretarial Order formally eliminating the former MMS and creating the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).
This week’s announcement marks the formal launch of the new Office of Natural Resources Revenue and the official transfer of revenue collection functions from BOEMRE to PMB, creating true structural separation of the revenue collection activities from the mineral leasing and regulatory functions.
The ONRR’s responsibilities also include auditing and compliance, investigation and enforcement, and asset management for Indian and federal lands onshore and offshore.
Salazar said the department is undertaking a strategic review to identify opportunities to further improve performance in all areas of ONRR operations. The ONRR was able to transition quickly because its responsibilities are more functionally separate from the remaining responsibilities of BOEMRE, the secretary noted.
With its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the ONRR will maintain the majority of its operations at the Denver Federal Center in Colorado, with field offices in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The ONRR has approximately 600 employees.
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