Reinventing Government Ruining the Gulf of Mexico

Robert Waldmann

This article by David Hilzenrath in the Washington Post is interesting. The news is that an internal inspection for Transocean use reported that some equipment (two cranes) had to be replaced and could not be used, but the official inspection outsourced to a private firm, concluded that everything was fine (this is the rig which burned and sank causing the huge BP spill). I learned how little I know about regulation of drilling rigs. First, they are considered ships and, therefore, are licensed by the nation where they are registered. The Marshall Islands decided that it was fine for the Deepwater Horizon to drill in the gulf. This is crazy. Drilling rigs are not like freight ships. If a country regulates who can drill somewhere, they should regulate the equipment. This is an obvious reform, which will never happen.

Second, like the Marshall Islands, the USA outsources inspections to firms hired by those they inspect (like ratings agencies). This second bit of insanity is a recent innovation introduced by the Coast Guard in 1995 back when the guy who signed the commodity futures modernization act was President. There is no hint in the article that Congress made the executive branch do this. I think it was part of Reinventing Government TM.

I think it’s past time for a serious reassessment of Clinton. For one thing, I would like to know which other chicken coops are guarded by foxes, before the chickens come home to roost.