Campaign: Legal & Policy Challenges

Scientific Freedom & Agency Media Policies

Agency media policies should respect that scientists and researchers have a right to express their personal views. Scientists and researchers, like any federal employees, have a right to express their personal views outside of a few narrow restrictions. Provided that scientists make an explicit disclaimer that they are speaking as private citizens and are not seeking to represent official agency policy, they should be allowed to speak freely about their research and to offer their scientific opinions – even in situations where their research may be controversial or have implications for agency policy. Agency policies governing communication with the media should make this option clear and explicit to employees. Such a “personal views” disclaimer does not, of course, cover the release of information that would otherwise be illegal, such as classified or personal information. Additionally, agencies should be encouraged to create a mechanism to allow non-scientific employees to express their opinions on actions, research, or policy within their areas of experience.

 

- From the 21st Century RTK Agenda

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Idea No. 227