The system used by the Department of the Interior to track oil and gas is woefully outdated, forcing stretched federal employees to dedicate thousands of hours to manually comb through industry data, the Government Accountability Office said in a report published in May and released to the public Monday. DOI relies on three separate and outdated systems to track industry data, including permitting and leases, enforcement, and financial systems, the GAO said, requiring the Office of Natural Resources Revenue to dedicate about 22,000 staff hours a year reconciling the various data – “the equivalent of approximately 10 full-time employees.”

“Although the systems use some of the same information, such as lease and well numbers, they do not fully connect or communicate with each other, complicating oversight,” the report says. These data are crucial to providing both federal oversight and public scrutiny to an industry that has often flouted regulations in the name of profit. Now, with the Biden administration overhauling the process by which it makes oil and gas leasing decisions, Interior’s inefficient record-keeping has sown distrust among the industry and its allies, and has drawn complaints from watchdog groups. Interior is said to be working on updating the system but has not yet made its plans to do so public. (E&E $, Politico Pro $; Leasing program overhaul: Politico Pro $, The Hill; Report: GAO)