Listening Lounge: House hearing on royalties
The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss royalty collection at the Interior Department.

The committee heard from two witnesses with experience in Indian royalties. They were Kevin Gambrell, the former director of the Farmington Indian Minerals Office at the Interior Department, and David Lester, the executive director of the Council of Energy Resource Tribes.

Gambrell, who now works with the Indian Land Working Group, said his office has been severely weakened since it stopped reporting to a federal court about its duties to Navajo beneficiaries. He criticized a computer system operated by the Minerals Management System as inaccurate and incomplete.

Lester said the MMS has failed to live up to its trust responsibilities to tribes and Indian beneficiaries. He said the agency has limited the role of a tribal-state advisory committee on royalty collection.

The committee also heard from Bobby L. Maxwell, a former MMS auditor who said he was blocked from recovering payments for drilling on federal and Indian land. He won a jury verdict in Colorado under the False Claims Act but the Bush administration is appealing.

You can listen to audio of the hearing below. The feed suffered some dropouts throughout the broadcast, so you may notice slight gaps in the recordings.
Introductory Statements

Panel 1 - Testimony - Q&A

The Honorable C. Stephen Allred, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Interior
Mr. Mark Gaffigan, Acting Director, Natural Resources and Environment, Government Accountability Office

Panel 2 - Testimony - Q&A
Mr. Bobby Maxwell, Former Auditor, Minerals Management Service
Mr. Kevin Gambrell, Indian Land Working Group
Ms. Ryan Alexander, President, Taxpayers for Common Sense

Panel 3 - Testimony - Q&A
Mr. Dennis Roller, Royalty Audit Section Manager, North Dakota State Auditors Office
Mr. A. David Lester, Executive Director, Council of Energy Resource Tribes
Mr. Michael Geesey, Director, Wyoming Department of Audit
Prof. Pamela Bucy, Frank M. Bainbridge Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law

Get the Story:
Ex-Auditor Says He Was Told to Be Lax on Oil Fees (The New York Times 3/29)

Committee Notice:
Full Committee Oversight Hearing: “Royalties at Risk” (March 28, 2007)

Inspector General Report:
Minerals Management Service's Compliance Review Process (December 2006)

GAO Letter:
Suggested Areas for Oversight for the 110th Congress (November 17, 2006)

Inspector General Testimony:
Devaney Interior Department: A Culture of Managerial Irresponsibility and Lack of Accountability? (September 2006)

Inspector General Report:
Allegations Concerning Senior Officials of the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians (May 2005)

Relevant Links:
Government Accountability Office:
Office of Special Trustee -

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