JAMES MADISON QUOTE - 1822

"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sunlight Foundation - Reports of Federal Government Agencies Directed Not to Communicate with the American Public - January 25, 2017


From Az quOtes - Fair Use for non-profit news and commentary

JAMES MADISON QUOTE - 1822

"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."
Reports of Federal Government Agencies Directed Not to Communicate with the American Public (Fair Use Rights for non-profit news reporting and commentary. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.)
For the past decade, the Sunlight Foundation has advocated for all branches of the federal government to use modern technologies to inform and engage the American people, from social media to websites. We adamantly oppose measures that limit disclosing documents and data to the public, particularly the publication of scientific papers, research and analysis, or public access to government scientists or technologists that can explain the findings.
The following list are reported formal actions to limit public communication at federal agencies.
  • Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services were reportedly directed “not to send any correspondence to public officials (to include Members of Congress and state and local officials) between now and February 3, unless specifically authorized by the Department.” An unnamed HHS official told Politico reports were in doubt: “Contrary to erroneous media reports, HHS and its agencies continue to communicate fully about its work through all of its regular communication channels with the public, the media and other relevant audiences. There is no directive to do otherwise.” [SOURCES: PoliticoHuffington Post]
  • The Environmental Protection Agency froze grant making, restricted social media, and told its employees not to talk about it. [SOURCES: Washington PostPoliticoBoston GlobeHuffington Post]
  • On January 23, Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service was directed not to release “any public-facing documents,” including, but not limited to, “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” according to an email obtained by the Associated Press. On January 24, the USDA disavowed the order and stated that peer-reviewed scientific papers from ARS should not be blocked. “This internal email was released without Departmental direction, and prior to Departmental guidance being issued,” USDA said in a statement. “ARS will be providing updated direction to its staff. ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public.” [SOURCES: Washington PostReutersPoliticoAPBuzzfeed]
  • The Department of the Interior and Department of Energy have both halted or limited social media use. [SOURCES: Washington PostGreenWire]
  • The Department of Transportation told employees not to publish news releases or social media until they receive new guidance from the Trump administration. [SOURCE: Politico]
  • The National Institutes of Health were “to hold on publishing new rules or guidance in the Federal Register or other public forums and discussing them with public officials until the Administration has had an opportunity to review them,” per Institutes spokeswoman Renate Myles. [SOURCE: Politico]
The White House has not confirmed these actions. White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about them in today’s press briefing but did not confirm.
If these reports are accurate, we call on the Trump administration to disclose the memoranda that have led to these changes to the public, explain their rationale, and reverse the measures.

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