WASHINGTON – Engineering experts probing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill exposed holes in BP’s internal investigation as the company was questioned Sunday for the first time in public about its findings.

BP’s lead investigator acknowledged that the company’s probe had limitations.

Mark Bly, head of safety and operations for BP PLC, told a National Academy of Engineering committee that a lack of physical evidence and interviews with employees from other companies limited BP’s study. The internal team looked only at the immediate cause of the April disaster, which killed 11 workers and unleashed 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.

“It is clear that you could go further into the analysis,” said Bly, who said the inquiry was geared to discovering things that BP could address in the short term.

For example, the National Academy of Engineering panel noted that the study avoided organizational flaws that could have contributed to the blast.

Najmedin Meshkati, an engineering professor at the University of Southern California, said he wondered why BP named its report an accident investigation when it left out critical elements.

“How could you call this great work accident investigation (without) addressing human performance issues and organizational issues and decision-making issues?” he asked.

He referred specifically to the confusion that occurred leading up to the explosion, when many workers aboard the rig were busy finishing up a well. This distraction could have led to missed signs that something was wrong.

“It wasn’t intended to be anything that it isn’t,” Bly replied. “It was a good contribution and a good foundation for further work for BP itself and others.”