Natural Resources & the Interior Department

February 12, 2007
Blog
The Committee on Natural Resources, known as the "Resources Committee" under the previous Chairman Republican Richard Pombo, has announced a hearing to establish a new direction in fulfilling its Constitutional duties:

House Natural Resources Committee to Conduct Long-Awaited Interior Department Oversight

Washington, D.C. -- In its first full committee oversight hearing of the 110th Congress, the House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), will examine a series of ongoing concerns that have affected the performance and management of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the challenges the agency faces in implementing its core programs.

"I am committed to pursuing an aggressive and comprehensive hearing schedule to delve into a host of matters that are plaguing the Interior Department.  This oversight hearing is the first in what is planned as an ongoing effort in the weeks and months ahead to examine the agency across the board -- from problems at the Minerals Management Service and the Bureau of Land Management, to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Fish and Wildlife Service," Rahall said.

"This Committee has an obligation, one that it has not pursued sufficiently in recent years, to ensure that the Interior Department is serving the interests of the American people and not the interests of a few well-connected individuals or well-placed bureaucrats," Rahall continued.

The Committee will hear testimony from the DOI Inspector General (IG) Earl Devaney and the General Accountability Office (GAO) Natural Resources and Environment Director Robin Nazzaro on audits and investigations that have been conducted by their respective offices over the past several years.  A host of issues have come under investigation, including ethical failures among high-ranking officials, lapses in appropriate conduct and discipline of employees, and general mismanagement of key agency initiatives -- such as oil and gas royalty collections, public land valuations, and maintenance backlogs. 

The full committee oversight hearing on "Reports, Audits and Investigations by the GAO and the IG Regarding the Department of the Interior" will be held at 10:00 a.m. in Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building.  The hearing will be webcast on the Committee's web site at resourcescommittee.house.gov.

While the scandals surrounding Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with Interior Department generated the most headlines, in many ways they were only symptomatic of deeper management issues -- issues to which Congress will no longer be turning a blind eye.

UPDATE: Watch the rescheduled hearing live on Friday at 10:00 at the Committee's website.