Open Government Plan Inadequate

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Elliott Negin
Media Director
202-331-5439
enegin@ucsusa.org

Open Government Plan Inadequate

Statement by Francesca Grifo, UCS

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration today announced plans to make all cabinet agencies more open to public scrutiny.

Below
is a statement by Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity
Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“The
Obama administration has taken some admirable steps to open up the
workings of the federal government in ways that will better inform the
public and help expose the misuse of scientific information by federal
employees. But the plans announced today would not have prevented even
the most flagrant examples of censorship during the previous
administration.

“It’s
commendable that federal agencies now will post information online, but
if federal scientists are not free to discuss the context and
implications of that information, then that pledge of transparency is
ultimately hollow. And despite today’s announcement, many federal
scientists are still not protected by policies that would allow them to
speak freely with the public and the press. 

“All agencies need media policies that ensure
federal scientists are allowed and encouraged to share their expertise
freely. Scientists should not fear that talking to reporters or citizen
groups will get them into trouble at work.

“It’s
ironic that the administration held online polls soliciting public
input for the plan it released today but apparently didn’t heed those
recommendations. Recommendations to allow agency scientists to speak
freely garnered the most votes in polls taken at the Interior
Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Labor Department.

“Federal
agencies still need to make transparency meaningful in many other ways,
from improving media policies to making visitor records available to
the public. The administration needs to build on the plans it announced
today.”

To see UCS’s media policy score card, go to: www.ucsusa.org/mediapolicies.

To see UCS’s top vote-getting recommendation, go to: openepa.ideascale.com/a/dtd/29345-7042.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.

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