Report: Federal Agencies of Two Minds on Freedom of Speech
Federal agencies have inconsistent media policies when it comes to allowing scientists to share information with journalists, concludes a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit group issued a “report card” grading 15 federal agencies on their communication policies. Some agencies, it found, “stifle communication” even if their policies encourage free speech. Other agencies simply have weak policies regarding communication with the media.
The Centers for Disease Control, for example, was found to have the best media policy, one that allows scientists to state personal views and review press releases about their own research. But the agency poorly implemented the policy.
According to the study released today, the agencies with the best communication policies, and which most effectively implemented them, were NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The Union of Concerned Scientists has commended NASA for improving its media policy after a political appointee in the agency reportedly censored leading climate scientist James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
The agencies with the worst policies include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service (within the Dept. of Interior), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The report card is below. The full report can be found here (pdf).
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