Rep. Towns: Birnbaum resignation was right decision

Thursday - 5/27/2010, 6:08pm EDT

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY)

Click to hear the interview

Download mp3

We've been telling you about the resignation Elizabeth Birnbaum, who was Director of the Minerals Management Service until she resigned this morning.

We at DorobekInsider spoke with Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who says he thinks the decision was very important.

"There seems to have been some hanky-panky and this is the kind of thing that we do not need today. When you look at the situation that's going on in the Gulf, and you hear about all the things that are going on about people going out to dinner and accepting gifts -- all kinds of things -- then you have to look to the leadership. She was the person that was responsible for the oversight of the agency and it appears that she was not doing the kind of job that needed to be done during this difficult time."

We've told you about that Interior IG report outlining a variety of different indiscretions, leaving some to wonder whether or not such behavior was just part of the culture at MMS. Congressman Towns says he thinks this was part of the reason Birnbaum struggled with leadership.

"It's just almost impossible for you to police an agency when this kind of stuff is going on. Her moving on gives {the administration} the opportunity to reorganize the agency and get some fresh blood in there and make certain that what has occurred will never happen again."

He also says the establishment of a government-run training program for potential MMS employees might help, rather than having to rely on experts from industry.

"There was just too much moving back and forth from MMS to industry. When you have that kind of movement on a regular basis, it's not healthy. It does not lend itself to true oversight. So, maybe the government now has to look at ways and methods to train people to be able to have the oversight responsibility."

New legislation for the FDA

Rep. Towns also talked with us about his new bill that would give more power regarding the recall of products.

"When the FDA finds out that something is going wrong, they {now} say {to a company} -- we hope that you will recall {your product}. That, to me, doesn't make a lot of sense. If you have the responsibility to provide and protect people and make certain that drugs are safe, then you need to have the ability to recall, as well. We're going to sponsor legislation that's going to give the {FDA} the ability to recall."

Read more:

The Federal Drive Who will inspect the inspectors?

Federal News Radio: Gulf spill surpasses Valdez; plug try going well