Chris Oynes served as U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) associate director for offshore energy and minerals management before he retired in May 2010. Oynes, who oversaw oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico for 12 years before being promoted to MMS associate director had come under fire for being too close to the industry officials he regulated.
During his tenure at the Gulf regional office in Louisiana for the MMS, Oynes played a central role in an offshore leasing foul-up that cost taxpayers an estimated $10 billion in lost revenue. The Interior Department's inspector general called the matter "a jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling." Despite that, the agency's then-director, Johnnie Burton, promoted Oynes in 2007 to associate director for the offshore program.
On May 24, 2010 the New York Times reported that under his watch in the Gulf, MMS regulators allowed industry officials to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency. MMS staff also routinely accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from oil companies.
- Independent probe of BP oil spill in works
- Chris Oynes Named Associate Director of the MMS Offshore Program, February 5, 2007
- Federal oversight of oil industry is broken: An editorial (The Times-Picayune, May 16, 2010)
- Inspector General Faults Minerals Management Service (New York Times, May 24, 2010)