The federal agency tasked with oversight of the nation’s energy sector has undergone restructuring. The Division of Energy Market Oversight (DEMO), an office of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has dissolved.
It is not uncommon for federal agencies to restructure or reorganize; adding, cutting or redistributing functions of one office to another. In many cases, and in the case of DEMO, it is done to increase organizational efficiency, cutting unnecessary redundancy or ill-operating departments to increase productivity. DEMO was one of four divisions of FERC’s Office of Enforcement, and was tasked with the oversight of the United States’ natural gas, electricity, and energy market generally. Findings from their analysis would be used to aid the Commission and regulatory bodies in decision making. Under the new structure, the duties previously under the purview of DEMO will now be distributed to several other offices within FERC.
While this change is not uncommon, and does not cut any services previously rendered to the public, the way in which it was done is considered by some to be controversial. While not legally mandated, some critics believe that a change to such an important office should have involved congress in some way. Compounding this critique is the fact that this move was done without any public announcement. Again, a public announcement declaring change to a federal agency’s internal office is not required, the lack of any notification to the public or congress raises concerns with some.
While FERC maintains that no services would be cut, others believe the secret reorganization is a means to slack on enforcement efforts. Congresswoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is vocal on this point, questioning the seriousness in which FERC handles their enforcement activities. She believes the restructuring is akin to taking a “cop” off of “the beat”, thus creating a vulnerability within the Office of Enforcement.
The change is likely to go unnoticed by citizens. However, critics of the move raise valid concerns for the lack of information disseminated regarding FERC’s actions.