The Minerals Management Service is dead. Long live the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement!
The MMS, the government oil regulator, was harshly criticized again and again for being too cozy with the oil industry. It seemed to have a conflict of interest as a regulator charged with both looking out for safety and collecting revenue from oil and gas companies.
So after the Gulf oil spill, the Obama administration told MMS to get rid of its old name, and start calling itself the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
(The administration is also changing the agency's org chart in a way that may reduce the conflict of interest.)
Changing agency names is a favorite pastime in Washington, especially when powerful people want to look like they're doing something.
The MMS home page, like the agency itself, is getting re-branded.
After the savings and loan crisis the government changed the S&L regulator from the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to the Office of Thrift Supervision.
Regular Planet Money listeners know how well that went; the OTS, which regulated AIG, will soon be folded into yet another agency.
Of course, there have been some name changes that had less to do with missteps and more to do with major events.
Like the Department of Defense. It was the Department of War until World War II when, they decided to ditch the War part.
After 9/11 the Immigration and Naturalization Service became part of ICE, Immigration Customs Enforcement.
The General Accounting Office changed names but not acronyms in 2004 when it became the Government Accountability Office.
And finally, the name change no one noticed: in 2004 the National Imagery and Mapping Agency became the cooler-sounding National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.