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Why BP CEO Dudley Should Diss Congress -- For Now

BP CEO Bob Dudley has declined an "invitation" -- again -- from Rep. Ed Markey to testify before Congress about the company's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In short, Dudley dissed Congress. And, for now, he should keep doing it.
As I am sure you can imagine, I have an enormous amount of work to do transitioning into this role and am very focused on ensuring the right decisions are made for the future of the company and the safety of our workforce, Dudley wrote Markey according to the The Hill's E-2 Wire blog.

Therefore, I regret that I must decline your invitation at this, but I look forward to sharing our progress with you on these important changes once they have been further developed and implemented.

The letter has the undeniable stench of disdain. And Dudley may very well be suffering from overconfidence that will come back to haunt him later. But pushing aside the vitriolic tone for a moment, Dudley has good reason to avoid Congress.

Dudley needs to both fix BP and appear as in control as possible for its employees, shareholders and even folks in the Gulf region who are filing compensation claims. For Dudley, testifying before Congress achieves nothing and likely weakens his position. He'll be slammed by lawmakers, as his predecessor Tony Hayward was, which will be widely reported for public consumption. Dudley needs to avoid this until he can get his ship in order. He shouldn't brush off Congress forever. He'd be wise to avoid it during the mid-term election season and until he has one quarter under his belt as CEO.

Dudley's disdainful I-have-more-important-things-to-do tone touches on one of my bigger pet peeves: endless congressional hearings. Listen, hearings are often necessary. There also overused and abused by lawmakers who want a soapbox, such as lambasting BP without getting real answers or issuing an apology to Hayward. The PBS YouTube interview with Dudley in July was more fruitful. The questions weren't political, but probing and the answers contained actual information. And in case, you're not convinced here is a list of congressional and federal agency hearings on the Gulf oil spill.

Photo from Flickr user yoshiffles, CC 2.0
For complete coverage, see All Things BNET on BP's Gulf of Mexico Spill