Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Presidential Commission

In the United States, a Presidential Commission is a special task force ordained by the President to complete some special research or investigation.  They are often used politically in one of two ways:  either to draw attention to a problem (the publication of a report by a commission can generally be counted on to draw attention from the media, depending on how its release is handled); or, on the other hand, to delay action on an issue (if the President wants to avoid taking action but still look concerned about an issue, he can convene a commission and then let it slip into obscurity).  However, there have been cases (the Tower, Rogers and Warren Commissions) where the commission has created reports that have been used as evidence in later criminal proceedings.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling is a bipartisan presidential commission, established by Executive Order 13543 signed by Barack Obama on May 21, 2010, that is “tasked with providing recommendations on how the United States can prevent and mitigate the impact of any future spills that result from offshore drilling.”  It came about as a result of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The first public hearings, held on July 12 and 13, 2010 in New Orleans, included scheduled testimony from Federal government officials and representatives of BP on the status of the spill and clean-up efforts, as well as from local officials, community leaders, and scientists on the economic, cultural, and ecological impacts of the oil spill on Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems.
On October 6, 2010 the commission released preliminary reports criticizing the Obama administration for mismanagement of its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Amongst other things cited were, not being fully candid with the American people, and giving the impression of not being fully competent.
On January 11, 2011, the commission released its final report,[6] with recommendations to Congress for new spending and regulations.[7]

The commissioners presented their findings to President Obama and several top advisers on Tuesday afternoon.  The president said he was working to adopt many of their recommendations but also noted that any actions requiring new financing and regulations would be a hard sell in the current Congress, said William K. Reilly, co-chairman of the commission and a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

David Gergen was the first, and only, person I heard ask, “When is the Commission going to be established?”  I wasn’t aware that one was.  Once that I found that a Commission was established, I was going to look at the membership and show that nobody had the background necessary to see the Federal Government’s Command and Control failures.  For perhaps the third time in my life, I was wrong.

The above information is from Wikipedia and the New York Times (reference 7 in Wikipedia).  Reference 6 leads to

The members of the Obama Commission panel to investigate the Gulf Oil spill are listed by Wikipedia as:
·         Bob Graham, former Governor of Florida and U.S. Senator (co-chair)
·         Frances G. Beinecke, President of Natural Resources Defense Council
·         Terry D. Garcia, Executive Vice President for Mission Programs for the National Geographic Society
·         Cherry A. Murray, Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences
·         Frances Ulmer, Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage and former Lieutenant Governor of Alaska

Where was Brian Williams on January 11, 2011?

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