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Enforcement Program

Enforcement Program

BSEE’s National Enforcement Program (NEP) is managed by the Safety Enforcement Division (SED) to oversee the enforcement of federal regulations that govern Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) operations. Enforcement is the primary tool used by the agency to ensure compliance with these regulations. When regulations are violated, the agency issues penalties and require corrective actions take place to bring operators into compliance. Regulation violations result in the issuance Incidents of Non-Compliance (INCs). When an operator fails to correct issues related to an INC or the violation constituted an occurrence or threat of harm to people or the environment, the agency may issue civil penalties.

BSEE promotes compliance with safety and environmental standards through regular inspections and other monitoring activities. Through timely notice of detected violations, BSEE provides operators clear direction for coming into compliance, and a reasonable opportunity to make corrections. BSEE’s intent is to prevent incidents; however, should they occur, BSEE has a duty to investigate, determine the causal elements/factors, and take the appropriate corrective actions. The agency incorporates a varied enforcement approach in response to incidents depending on the severity and other causal factors.

An effective enforcement and compliance program requires consistent and transparent processes to include clear and understandable standards; sufficient reporting and recordkeeping to measure compliance; an effective oversight program in the field; a range of enforcement tools graduated to risk; and incentives to move beyond baseline compliance to an effective safety and environmental protection management scheme.

All incidents present an opportunity to improve our understanding of underlying causes and risk factors; therefore, systemic analysis of this information is a key element of BSEE’s enforcement program and our regulatory responsibilities. SED develops and maintains national enforcement policy and organizes enforcement strategy for the agency. SED pulls expertise from various programs to include inspections, civil penalties, environmental compliance and the Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) to conduct analysis, develop guidelines, review operator performance and develop alternative enforcement strategies. SED collaborates with bureau and departmental stakeholders to enforce safety on the OCS.

On rare occasions, BSEE investigations will detect evidence of knowing and willful misconduct or otherwise unlawful activity. Although BSEE is not a law enforcement agency, such evidence, when detected, will be handled appropriately and properly preserved until a transfer to designated law enforcement investigators can be accomplished. In these situations, BSEE personnel will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials as subject matter experts in the development of a case.

The BSEE OCS Civil Penalties Program is designed to encourage compliance with OCS statutes and regulations through the pursuit, assessment, and collection of civil penalties and referrals for the consideration of criminal penalties. Annual data on civil penalties that are paid and closed can be found on the Civil Penalties Program page.

SED maintains oversight of the NEP to:

  1. Develop national policy and procedures.
  2. Establish enforcement priorities.
  3. Develop program and management controls for bureau-wide activities.
  4. Ensure consistent application of enforcement processes.
  5. Ensure staff receive required training.
  6. Serve as the primary office facilitating settlement agreements.
  7. Serve as a liaison with other DOI components, outside agencies, and stakeholders

2023 update to Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Civil Penalty Rates

BSEE may assess a civil penalty, or fine, for certain violations. See the civil penalty section of this site and the Code of Federal Regulations for details.

In March 2023, BSEE updated its civil penalty rates as follows:

  • Maximum Civil Penalty. This amount is set by law and adjusted annually for inflation. The new maximum is $52,646 per day, per violation. (The previous maximum was $48,862.)
  • Civil Penalties for Violations Involving Harm/Threat of Harm. To show how penalties are calculated for specific types of violations, BSEE publishes rate tables, or “matrices.” For harm violations, rates will be adjusted for inflation, as required by law. Rates are provided in a Notice to Lessees.
  • Civil Penalties for Failure to Correct Violations. Civil penalties should motivate correction and future compliance. However, previous civil penalty values for failure to correct violations were not consistently motivating correction.

Rates were increased within the maximum allowed by law, and are higher for violations that require “shutting in” (discontinuing use of) a component or facility. The amounts will also be calculated by day rather than by week.

Note that these rates go into effect 60 days after the rates for harm/threat of harm mentioned above. They are published in a Notice to Lessees and shown below.

Period of non-compliance following provision of a reasonable period to correct

Category of Non-Compliance

1-21 Days

After 21 Days

Failure to Correct a Warning (W) INC



Failure to Correct a Shut-In (C or S) INC



 Note: Going forward, the rates in this table will be adjusted annually for inflation.