Former DOI IG chosen as assistant secretary for land and minerals

US President Barack H. Obama plans to nominate Wilma A. Lewis, a former inspector general at the US Department of the Interior, as assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals management.

Lewis, who also was US attorney for the District of Columbia from 1998 to 2001, was IG at DOI from 1995 to 1998, where she managed a staff of 300 in 12 offices and conducted investigations and audits. More recently, she was managing associate general counsel at Freddie Mac from October 2007 to December 2008 and a partner in a private law firm, Crowell & Mooring from June 2001 to September 2007.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar applauded Obama's selection when the president announced it on May 1. The secretary said that Lewis was well qualified because of her "extensive legal, law enforcement, and management experience; high ethical standards, and personal integrity."

DOI said that while Lewis was the department's IG, she initiated a fraud awareness program focused on educating DOI employees to recognize and report suspected fraudulent activity. She also launched several investigations, including one of alleged underpayment of royalties on federal leases.

Before becoming IG, she was an associate solicitor at DOI in charge of the division handling equal opportunity compliance, administrative law, personnel, torts, contracts, and ethics matters, according to DOI from 1993 to 1995. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1981 and earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Swarthmore College in 1978.

As assistant secretary for lands and minerals management, she would oversee the US Bureau of Land Management and the US Minerals Management, the two DOI agencies most directly involved in federal oil and gas resource activities, as well as the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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