President Obama Tuesday said he picked Michael R. Bromwich, a partner in the law firm of Fried Frank’s in Washington, DC, and New York, to head up reform of the troubled Minerals Management Services (MMS).

Bromwich will oversee the restructuring of the MMS into three separate bureaus — the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenues (see Daily GPI, May 21).

Bromwich fills the position vacated by Liz Birnbaum, who either resigned on her own or was pushed out in late May in the wake of the crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) (see Daily GPI, June 1).

Birnbaum’s departure came as Obama said the MMS, the federal agency charged with inspecting oil and natural gas rigs and platforms in the offshore, has had a “cozy and corrupt relationship” with the oil and gas industry that lead to “little or no regulation” in the offshore. Birnbaum became a likely target.

In 2002 Bromwich was selected by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the District of Columbia to serve as the independent monitor for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, focusing on the use of force, civil rights integrity, internal misconduct and training issues.

Prior to joining the law firm, Bromwich served as inspector general for the DOJ from 1994 to 1999. He conducted criminal and administrative investigations into allegations of corruption and misconduct involving 120,000 employees at DOJ. Before the DOJ, he served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and as associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra.

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