Uh-oh. The Interior Department's internal watchdog says top officials at the agency knew about problems costing taxpayers as much as $10 billion in revenue, but tried to hide the problem from the public, according
to Congressional Quarterly
's Jeff Tollefson.
One official may even have lied to Congress about when she knew things were screwy with her agency's energy contracts, which have allowed companies like ExxonMobil and Shell to pay billions less than they should have to extract oil and gas from federal lands, CQ reports:
A much-anticipated report to Congress will allege that Interior Department officials covered up a problem with oil and gas leases after it was discovered in 2000, according to congressional aides.
The Interior Department inspector general (IG) also has been investigating whether Johnnie Burton, head of the agency that collects royalties, might have been told about the problem earlier than she said in congressional testimony last fall.