The Times of Aug 8 has a long piece on the Minerals Management Service, focused mostly on its long-time head of the Gulf Coast office, Mr. Oynes. Implicit in the piece are some of the problems of any large bureaucracy. The local operatives, in this case the MMS people in the Gulf, are a long ways from DC policymakers and very close geographically to the people they deal with every day. That's not a fatal flaw, but it is a problem. Proximity breeds connection (interesting piece of research: we mostly date the people we know, and we marry the people we date).
One of the usual tactics of the budget cutters, whether in any administration or in Congress, is to make cuts on travel. That's all very well, but one of the key methods of keeping policymakers and policy executors on the same page, or at least adjacent pages, is to have them meet in person. Failure to meet aggravates the human tendency to think that out of sight is out of mind, that the big shots have forgotten the people in the weeds, or conversely actually to forget what it's like to serve in the field, what the day-to-day problems are, and to ignore proposals for change coming up from the field.
All this is aggravated in the sort of regulatory environment the MMS faced with the oil industry.