Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement: Strategic Organizational Assessment

March 2017 – The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is responsible for ensuring that the nation’s offshore energy is effectively developed in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner. BSEE works with other federal agencies and the private sector to fulfill its responsibilities to protect worker safety, ensure oil spill preparedness, protect coastal and marine resources, and develop energy resources with a fair return for the American public.

To assess its organizational progress over the past five years, BSEE contracted with the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy), which assembled a study team assisted by an Expert Advisory Group of Academy Fellows, to review BSEE’s organizational structure, relationships, systems, policies, and processes. The Academy study team focused on BSEE’s mission execution and operability as a separate bureau and its relationships with other federal entities; its regulatory framework; emerging policy and operational issues; the results of a recent organizational realignment; strategic planning and organizational performance management; human capital management; governance, communication, and collaboration; and budgetary challenges.

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Academy study team determined that creation of BSEE as a separate bureau significantly strengthened the federal government’s ability to effectively oversee industry as it develops OCS resources. BSEE’s establishment has helped ensure high levels of protection for worker safety and the environment and utilization of OCS resources in a manner that is in the best interests of the nation. BSEE’s creation also provides a strong foundation for improving what had previously been insufficient federal oversight of compliance monitoring (permitting and inspection), investigation and enforcement, and oil spill response preparedness.

Over the past five years, BSSE has made significant headway in building capacity and competencies to support its mission. The Academy study team developed a set of recommendations that are intended to help address broader policy issues outside of the bureau’s direct control, such as decommissioning facilities and equipment in the OCS, and those to BSEE are intended to build on the achievements that BSEE has made thus far and increase the bureau’s functioning and sustainability.