OCC Discusses Oil & Gas Deputy Director Vacancy

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission meeting held on Wednesday was contentious as the commissioners discussed hiring a deputy director for the Oil and Gas Conservation Division. According to a report published by Janice Francis-Smith in The Journal Record, Vice-Chairman Bob Anthony offered recommendations to fill the vacancy but Chairman Todd Hiett and Commissioner Dana Murphy did not address the issue.

Vice-Chair Anthony preferred a vetting process that involved identification of the best candidate by a committee led by Tim Rhodes, the OCC Director of Administration.

When the Commission reconvened from Executive Session, Vice-Chairman Anthony made a motion to have staff take action to hire the top candidate recommended unanimously by the selection process. His motion required a second but neither Hiett nor Murphy chose to do so.

Despite warnings to be mindful of the agency’s budget and curtail hiring, the Commission has been approached by oil and gas community leaders as well as legislators to hire a deputy director in order to maintain workflow and operations. During a meeting held last month, Rep. Zach Taylor (R-Seminole) indicated that this may be an opportunistic time to hire a highly qualified candidate within the budget based on the current business climate.

Chairman Hiett stated a future meeting would be held to discuss a similar motion after Director Rhodes responds to some requests by the Commissioners.

The Commissioners also received staff updates on the OCC budget and strategic plan.