The federal government reforms laws and regulations by enacting new legislation and proposing new rules to implement the legislation. Reforms are recommended by oversight organizations, such as the Inspector General or the Government Accountability Office.
Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is responsible for the independent oversight and promotion of excellence, integrity, and accountability within the programs, operations, and management of the Department of the Interior. OIG also identifies and prevents fraud, waste, and mismanagement within the agency.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports
The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer funds, including those for natural resource management on federal and Indian lands.
Per the Administrative Procedures Act, agencies propose rules to implement federal laws. The public has an opportunity to comment on all proposed rules before an agency finalizes any regulations.
For more details, search the Federal Registrar for Department of the Interior proposed rules.
The Dodd-Frank Act
In 2010, the U.S. enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (PDF) (124 Stat. 1376) to improve transparency and accountability across the financial system. Section 1504 of the act requires extractive industries companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to disclose information about payments to governments around the world.
Section 1504 requires companies to disclose the type and total amount of payments made for commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. It mandates the disclosure of taxes, royalties, fees, entitlements, bonuses, and other material benefits.
Section 1504 references the guidelines of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The United States participated in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative as an implementing country from 2014 to 2017. In November 2017, the U.S. withdrew as an implementing country from EITI.
Section 1504 resolution
In early 2017, Congress voted to disapprove an SEC rule implementing Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act. President Trump signed the resolution on February 14, 2017. This resolution prevents the SEC from enforcing Section 1504 of Dodd-Frank until a new rule is published.
In December 2017, Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan introduced a bill to formally repeal Section 1504 and its disclosure requirements.
Deepwater Horizon oil spill reforms
In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the federal government changed the oversight of the Department of the Interior's leasing, regulation, and collection of revenue for oil and gas extraction on the Outer Continental Shelf. The post-Deepwater Horizon reorganization separated and established independent oversight for offshore leasing (BOEM), offshore safety and environmental enforcement (BSEE), and the collection and accountability of the revenue generated from natural resource development on federal and Indian lands through the creation of the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR).
When the Secretary of the Interior announced the creation of ONRR in May 2010 and the elimination of the former Minerals Management Service in June 2010, the goals were to:
- Separate the three responsibilities of leasing, regulation, and revenue collection
- Provide each office and bureau with the independence and resources necessary to fulfill their missions
- Eliminate real and perceived conflicts associated with the previous organizations
While the federal government made regulatory reforms following the spill, Congress did not change any laws related to offshore fossil fuel management in response to the accident.
In May of 2018, BSEE submitted a proposed rule revising regulations for well control and blowout preventer systems put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.