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Name: Birnbaum, Liz
Current Position: Former Director

S. Elizabeth (Liz) Birnbaum was sworn in as the Director of the Mineral's Management Service (MMS) on July 15, 2009. The Minerals Management Service is located within the US Department of the Interior, and manages the natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the US outer continental shelf (OCS). MMS is responsible for collecting revenues generated from government leases of OCS lands as well as onshore mineral leases on federal and Native American lands to private oil and gas companies. It also collects and disburses more than $23 billion per year in revenues from federally owned offshore mineral leases and from onshore mineral leases on federal and American Indian lands.

Not only will Birnbaum be in charge of a yearly budget of $347 million and approximately 1,600 employees, but she will also be in charge of cleaning up a department known recently for its ethics scandals. Last year, more than a dozen employees of the Minerals Management Service were accused by the Interior Department’s Inspector General of rigging oil contracts, accepting gifts, having sex and doing drugs with employees of energy firms…among other accusations. Birbaum is expected to make over the department’s tainted image.
Elizabeth Birbaum was born in 1958 in Virginia. She began her higher education at Brown University, graduated in 1979, and received her associate bachelors degree in linguistics, magna cum laude. She went on to earn her law degree from Harvard Law School in 1984, after which she took on various positions that built a resume of two decades of energy and environmental policy experience.
From 1987 to 1991 Birnbaum was counsel for the Water Resources Program of the National Wildlife Federation. From 1991 to 1999, she was counsel to the House Committee on Natural Resources, after which she served as the special assistant to the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, which oversees legal policy on natural resource issues. Birnbaum moved up to Associate Solicitor for Mineral Resources from 2000 to 2001, supervising and managing a staff of attorneys that worked to provide legal counsel, develop regulations and conduct litigation on minerals management for the Minerals Management Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation.
When George W. Bush took over the White house, Birnbaum left government and, from 2001 to 2007 she was the Vice President for Government Affairs and General Counsel for the non-profit conservation organization American Rivers. Birnbaum returned to government in 2007 as staff director for the Committee on House Administration, where she oversaw strategy development, budget management and staff activities for the committee that manages legislative branch agencies.
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