July 29, 2008 The Pump Handle 1Comment

The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports that a senior EPA official has told managers that they shouldn’t answer questions from reporters, congressional investigators, or the agency’s inspector general – instead, they should direct them to a press officer. (The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has more details.)

Discouraging EPA employees from speaking with members of the media is nothing new, as the Union of Concerned Scientists reported after surveying hundreds of EPA scientists (see Chapter 4 of their report). But Congress and the Inspector General are supposed to be able to get information from federal agency employees. As revere pointed out last year, when the NIEHS tried to crack down on employees’ contact with Congress, “Under the law, federal employees have an absolute right to provide information to Congress and interfering with this right is itself illegal.” Evidently, EPA officials think it’s more important to control the message than to obey the law.

One thought on “EPA Staff Told Not to Answer Questions from Congress and IG

  1. Strange how this tongue-tied disease seems to be going around in the government. Some kind of zip-lip flu perhaps:

    e.g. Secretary of Labor Order 5-2008 scheduled for publication in the 7/29 Federa Register: Management of United States Government Accountability Office Reports. The responsibility for liaison with GAO at DOL is reassigned from the Chief Financial Officer to the Assistant Secretary for Policy.

    A nice cross reference could be made with Pump Handle postings on the DOL’s latest requirements for assessing occupational health risks, which also arises out of the policy office at DOL.

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