Get Your MMS Swag While Its Hot

Photo courtsey of PEER.


Among the reforms the Obama administration has underaken at the Department of Interior since the Gulf disaster began was breaking up the problem-plagued Minerals Management Service (MMS) into separate divisions, one for regulation and the other for revenue collection.

MMS also got a shiny (if overly wordy) new name; it’s now the “Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or the “BOE” for short (though there is apparently some infighting about the acronym). It’s almost as if changing the name could magically solve the division’s problems!

The new name now means MMS swag is about to become a collector’s item. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has a reserve of MMS memorabilia, most of it with a “safety” theme, that it’s auctioning off to say good riddance to a department that became legendary for sex, drugs, cozy ties with industry, and extremly lax oversight.

PEER has MMS whistles in both plastic and metal (for whistleblowers, get it?). There’s also a “Never Take a Brake from Safety” lunch box (guess someone must have been out to lunch when it came to safety oversight on the Deepwater Horizon). There’s also a “Safety Week” flashlight, lanyards, an official 2008 “Safety Week” gym bag, key chains, a pedometer, pens, a laptop bag, and a paper weight with an oil drop logo.

There’s even a 1997 MMS Hammer Award, presented by then-Vice President Al Gore in recognition of the agency’s Innovative Achievements Program for it’s commitment to customer service. The message from Gore reads: “Thanks for building a government that works better and costs less!”

Ah, MMS: Safety endorsed via swag, if not actual agency policy. I’m glad PEER has preserved this kitsch for posterity.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.