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New Media Policy at Commerce

April 2, 2007

Last week, in response to complaints about the silencing of various scientists regarding global warming and other topics, the Commerce Department issued a new public communications policy (pdf). On Friday, House Committee on Science & Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (TN-06), and Subcommittee Chairmen Brad Miller (NC-13) and Nick Lampson (TX-22) released a letter (pdf) raising reservations regarding the new media policy, which requires any scientist expressing their personal views to get clearance 14 days in advance:

We do not understand what useful ends can be acheived through the 14 day clearance process other than to inhibit employees in expressing their personal opinions. If it is necessary to remind employees that even in their private capacities they must respect rules regarding the treatment of classified or other restricted materials and not violate ethics regulations or statutes, then make that statement. But it would appear to us that it should be sufficient to simply make it clear to employees that they must always clearly indicate when they are expressing their personal views. No pre-clearance should be required.

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