Legal & Policy Challenges

Scientists should not be required to obtain pre-approval from public affairs before responding to a media request

Agency policies should spell out a clearly defined role for the PAOs, including timely response to media inquiries and providing journalists and agency staff with accurate information, but should also prevent them from being “gatekeepers of information.” Scientists should not be required to obtain pre-approval from public affairs before responding to a media request. However, requiring scientists and researchers to give ...more »

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Legal & Policy Challenges

Scientific Review and Comment on Government Products

Scientists and researchers also have the right to review, approve and comment publicly on the final version of any document or publication that significantly relies on their research, identifies them as an author or contributor, or purports to represent their scientific opinion or relates to their field of expertise. While editing by non-scientists is at times necessary and useful, final review by scientific experts is ...more »

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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 ...more »

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Legal & Policy Challenges

Agency communications policies should also inform employees of their rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Lloyd

Agency communications policies should also inform employees of their rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act and the Lloyd-La Follette Act, which ensures unrestricted employee communication with Congress. The policy should comply with the Anti-Gag Statute and should provide protections against overly broad non-disclosure policies. It should be clear that employees can go to their agency's Inspector General Office ...more »

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Legal & Policy Challenges

Official agency communications policy should be publicly available on the agency's website

The official agency communications policy should be publicly available on the agency's website. Public affairs staff should have a plan for disseminating the policy to agency scientists and should conduct trainings in effective media communication that emphasize scientific openness.

 

- From the 21st Century RTK Agenda

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Making Government Operations More Open

Ensure that guidelines for the free flow of scientific information are implemented in a comprehensive manner.

The President’s Science Adviser should ensure that guidelines for the free flow of scientific information are implemented in a comprehensive and timely manner. On the heels of repeated problems with the publication of important studies in various agencies, there has been some movement in the right direction on policies governing review and clearance of scientific materials. However, the manner in which agencies adopt ...more »

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Legal & Policy Challenges

Agency employees are responsible for the accuracy and integrity of their communications

Agency policies should make clear that employees are responsible for the accuracy and integrity of their communications and should not represent the agency on issues of politics or policy without prior approval from the Public Affairs Officer. Employees are also responsible for working with public affairs to make significant research developments accessible and comprehensible to the public. - From the 21st Century RTK ...more »

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