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Director, United States Geological Survey

On January 26, 2018, Donald Trump nominated James Reilly to be Director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). In this role, Reilly oversees the USGS, the country’s “largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency” that provides “science about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems.” USGS is also “the sole science agency for the Department of the Interior.” Reilly was confirmed by the Senate as USGS Director on April 9, 2018.

Dr. James “Jim” Reilly II “was born in Idaho, where his father was stationed in the U.S. Air Force, but he moved to Mesquite [Texas] as a child.” He graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 1972, and then attended the University of Texas at Dallas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geosciences, and later a master’s degree (1987) and doctorate (1995). From 1980 to 1995, Reilly was “chief geologist… at Dallas-based oil and gas company Enserch Exploration, Inc., where he focused on exploring offshore areas in the Gulf of Mexico.” In 1995, Reilly began working at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where he was an astronaut for 13 years and “‘logged over 853 hours in space, including five spacewalks totaling 31 hours and 10 minutes.'” After leaving NASA, from 2009 to 2014, Reilly worked as an “Associate Vice President, Dean School of Science and Technology” at American Public University System, a for-profit college system that, while he worked there, was sued for allegedly “fraudulently [billing] the federal government for students it recruited illegally,” and is currently being investigated by the Massachusetts Attorney General based on “allegations of unfair or deceptive practices in recruiting students and financing of student education.” Since leaving NASA Reilly has also worked for Delta Solutions and Strategies, TAEUS Corp., and PhotoStencil, Corp., and has started his own firm, Mach 25 Management LLC, that consults for a variety of clients including schools, technology companies, government agencies and intergovernmental organizations.

Sources: [Press Release, White House, 01/26/18, “Who We Are,” USGS, accessed 03/01/18, “About USGS,” USGS, accessed 03/01/18, Philip Chien, “Astronaut counts down to mission, spacewalk,” Dallas Morning News, 07/12/01, Chris D’Angelo, “Trump Names Former Astronaut And Oil Geologist To Lead Key Scientific Agency,” Huffington Post, 01/26/18, Michael Doyle, “Former astronaut tapped to lead USGS,” Energy & Environment, 01/26/18, Paul Voosen, “Retired astronaut picked to lead U.S. Geological Survey,” Science, 01/26/18, LinkedIn Profile for James Reilly, accessed 03/01/18, Headlines, Class Action Reporter, 08/19/10, and “Public Disclosure: American Military University under American Public University System has received the ‘Governmental Investigation’ designation,” Higher Learning Commission, 02/07/18; Kellie Lunney, “USGS, DOE picks confirmed,” Energy & Environment, 04/10/18]

Special Interests

Enserch Exploration (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Reilly was chief geologist at Dallas-based oil and gas company Enserch Exploration, Inc., where he focused on exploring offshore areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

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also connected to:

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Resource Development on Public Lands)

APPEA, the organization that represents "Australia's oil and gas exploration and production industry," is a client of Reilly's consulting firm, Mach 2 Management LLC.

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also connected to:

Background Information

Previous Employers

Enserch Exploration

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 

TAEUS Corp.

American Public University System

National Security Space Institute, U.S. Air Force

Mach25Management LLC

Delta Solutions and Strategies

PhotoStencil, Corp

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

James Reilly was “chief geologist… at Dallas-based oil and gas company Enserch Exploration, Inc.”

While at Enserch, Reilly “focused on exploring offshore areas in the Gulf of Mexico,” work that, he claims “‘resulted in the discovery of over 115 million barrels of oil and over 1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.'” [Chris D’Angelo, “Trump Names Former Astronaut And Oil Geologist To Lead Key Scientific Agency,” Huffington Post, 01/26/18]

James Reilly was an Associate Vice President and Dean at American Public University System, an online for-profit university that claims it aims “to provide high quality higher education with emphasis on educating the nation’s military and public service communities.” American Public University’s parent company has faced class action lawsuits in the past, and is currently under investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General for “allegations of unfair or deceptive acts or practices relating to student recruitment, retention and financing.”

From December 2009 to May 2014, James Reilly was the “Associate Vice President, Dean School of Science and Technology” at American Public University System, “a for-profit online university started in the 1990s.” According to their mission statement, American Public University System aims to provide “high quality higher education with emphasis on educating the nation’s military and public service communities.” American Public University System’s parent company is American Public Education Inc. [Paul Voosen, “Retired astronaut picked to lead U.S. Geological Survey,” Science, 01/26/18, Profile for James Reilly, LinkedIn, accessed 03/01/18, and “Mission and Vision,” American Public University System, accessed 03/02/18]

In August 2010, American Public Education Inc., was sued in a federal class action lawsuit by its shareholders, who alleged that the company had “fraudulently billed the federal government for students it recruited illegally, and inflated its share price as it did so.” The case was dismissed with prejudice. [Headlines, Class Action Reporter, 08/19/10, and “Order Granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss,” Gaer v. American Public Education Inc., Case No. 3:10-CV-8, 12/08/11]

Additionally, American Public Education Inc. is currently under “investigation by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding allegations of unfair or deceptive practices in recruiting students and financing of student education.” The complaint, issued on July 31, 2017, focuses on “allegations of unfair or deceptive acts or practices relating to student recruitment, retention and financing by American Military University, which is operated by American Public Education’s wholly owned operating subsidiary, American Public University System, Inc.” [“Public Disclosure: American Military University under American Public University System has received the ‘Governmental Investigation’ designation,” Higher Learning Commission, 02/07/18; Press Release, Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC, 08/18/17]

James Reilly’s company, Mach 25 Management LLC, does “consulting and speaking work” for a variety of clients including schools, technology companies, government agencies and intergovernmental organizations. 

Reilly “started his own firm, Mach 25 Management, for consulting and speaking work.” On his OGE 278e Form, Reilly describes Mach 25 Management LLC as his “personal LLC under which all contracting, training events, consulting, speaking arrangements are managed,” and says that the LLC “will be inactive during my appointment and all outstanding client income will be fixed before I enter Government service.” [Jeff Foust, “Former astronaut nominated to run U.S. Geological Survey,” SpaceNews, 01/27/18, and James Reilly, OGE Form 278e, 2017]

Mach 25 Management’s clients include:

European Space Agency

Stevens Institute of Technology

NASA

Lockheed Martin

DNC Resort (Kennedy Space Center)

University of Colorado

Wallisch and Associates

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association

FBI National Academy Associates Inc.

American Public University System

Medisend International

SAIC

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Independent School Casualty Corporation

English Language Schools Association

Delphi Technology

Property Casualty Insurers Association

Dixie State College

St. George, Utah, Chamber of Commerce

Southern Utah Homebuilders Association

Delta Solutions and Strategies,

Teaching Science and Technology, Inc.

[James Reilly, OGE Form 278e, 2017]

Current Activity

  • Possible Conflicts of Interest

James Reilly has had a variety of clients through his consulting company, one of which is Lockheed Martin. This could constitute a possible conflict of interest, as Lockheed Martin is a major government contractor and has previously received contracts from the United States Geological Survey. [James Reilly, OGE Form 278e, 2017, and Search for Contracts Awarded from USGS to Lockheed Martin, USA Spending, accessed 03/02/18]

Reilly has also consulted for NASA, which could also constitute a conflict of interest as USGS conducts business with NASA. [James Reilly, OGE Form 278e, 2017, and “USGS and NASA Select New Landsat Science Team,” USGS, 12/15/17]

Financials

Financial Disclosure

[Office of Government Ethics]

Other Information

In 2012, James Reilly was late in filing the required paperwork for his LLC.

James Reilly’s LLC, Mach 25 Management, LLC, on May 1, 2012 was “Noncompliant for
failure to file Periodic Report” with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. On August 27, 2012, Reilly filed a “Statement curing delinquency” for Mach 25 Management LLC with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. [History and Documents for Mach 25 Management LLC, Colorado Secretary of State, accessed 03/01/17]