IER blasts Interior Department for transparency failures

Posted February 7, 2012 | folder icon Print this page

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2012

WASHINGTON D.C. — Citing numerous examples of “embarrassing shortcomings” in data transparency at the Department of Interior, the Institute for Energy Research sent today a letter to Secretary Ken Salazar calling for the department to “totally revamp Interior’s data publication practices [and] publish complete, accurate, and useful data” for the American people.

“Recent problems with data about energy production on public lands is the direct result of failures at the Interior Department to provide accurate, complete, useful data on energy leases,” noted IER President Thomas Pyle in the letter to Salazar.

“Unless [the Interior Department] corrects these problems, it will continue to fall short of this Administration’s professed commitment to transparency.

IER lists the following examples of transparency failures at Interior:

  • Failure to provide accessible and understandable data to the Energy Information Administration regarding energy production on public lands.
  • A complex, unnavigable bureaucratic structure to compile and report data.
  • Wildly inconsistent data formats among Interior Department agencies charged with providing data to the public.
  • Unsearchable and impossibly opaque revenue tables presented in static text that is unable to be downloaded into spreadsheets and databases.
  • A refusal to provide data for bulk download, preferring instead to protect Interior’s databases behind intentionally difficult query systems.
  • An unwillingness to provide accurate data regarding leasing activity in the Gulf of Mexico, despite the intense economic hardship that the Administration’s moratorium, permitorium, and other regulatory hurdles have caused along the Gulf coast.
  • A refusal to comply with President Obama’s Open Government Directive, which required all federal agencies to implement principles of transparency, collaboration, and participation.
  • The inability to meet Interior’s own promise to “regularly update” its own Open Government Plan, which was last updated nineteen months ago.
  • A refusal to include data on energy leases in Interior’s Open Government Plan, despite enthusiastic reports about population counts of horses and burros on federal lands and climate change.
  • Unacceptable delays in implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, as charged by President Obama, though these global standards have already been implemented by Mongolia, Ghana, Azerbaijan, the Central African Republic, and others.

The letter was cc’d to the following: Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Ranking Member Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine), EIA Acting Administrator Howard Gruenspecht.

To access the full letter, click here.

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Author:
IER