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Before the financial meltdown monopolized the US government, there was a brief surge last month in congressional interest in the inner workings of the US Interior Department’s Royalty in Kind (RIK) program. The buzz centered around three reports issued by the department’s inspector general, detailing misconduct between 2002 and 2006 in the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), which administers the RIK program. These reports paint a lurid picture of an agency rife with promiscuous sex, both within the agency and between employees and industry representatives, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, and wild parties and extravagant gifts courtesy of oil and gas companies. Without dwelling on the most lurid stuff-the program’s manager snorting cocaine off the toaster of one of the two subordinates with whom he had intimate relations, an employee selling sex toys out of the office-the reports describe a broad web of conflicts of interest in RIK.
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