Minerals Management gets go-ahead

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has received permission to reconnect to the Internet.

MMS went off-line as part of a departmentwide shutdown ordered by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in December.

Lamberth pulled the plug on Interior after computer security firm Predictive Systems Inc. broke into its systems and reportedly cut a check from funds held in trust for American Indians.

As a result, MMS has been unable to process payments. The agency receives royalty money from companies that extract minerals from lands held in trust.

The revenues totaled almost $10 million last year and more than $120 billion since the agency's inception in 1982.

"Resuming operation of our core accounting systems will enable the MMS to receive and process mineral revenue reports and payments, and conduct its full range of related financial services for mineral revenue recipients and other program beneficiaries," MMS Director Johnnie Burton said in a news release.

MMS is telling companies to resume submitting royalty and production reports to its electronic commerce provider, Peregrine Corp.

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