Following revelations of bribes, favoritism and sexual liaisons between oil industry executives and regulators, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling has imposed its first-ever ethics policy, The Associated Press reports.
Michael R. Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, issued guidelines this week to prevent inspectors from dealing with a company that employs a family member or friend.
Under the new policy, which takes effect immediately, employees fill out a two-page form listing all personal and business relationships with the companies supervised by the agency, The New York Times reports.
Agency employees must notify a supervisor about any potential conflict of interest and step aside when inspections or other official duties involve a company that employs a family member or close friend. Officials who join the agency from the oil industry must wait two years before taking on inspections or other regulatory work involving their former employers.
After this year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the agency, until recently known as the Minerals Management Service, came under intense scrutiny for its close ties with industry officials.
The New York Times noted that audits and investigations have uncovered cases in which oil company executives used bribes, favors and threats to avoid citations for noncompliance, which can lead to heavy fines or other penalties. Instances were reoprted of employees accepting meals, football tickets, hunting trips and other gifts from industry executives. In addition, some regulators had sex with energy company officials and negotiated for industry jobs.