DOE Scientists Prevented from Traveling to Conferences

On January 7, 2019, officials at the Department of Energy (DOE) sent an email directing certain scientists and other staff to cancel all travel scheduled through the end of February. The email was received by federal employees and contractors at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It cited the partial government shutdown as the reason for requiring travel to be cancelled. However, DOE is not affected by the shutdown, having been fully-funded through the 2019 fiscal year.


On January 8, 2019, DOE staff received an email indicating that no restrictions have been imposed on travel. A DOE spokesperson subsequently told reporters that travel had never been banned and described reports to the contrary as “false.”


On January 18, 2019, the Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology requested that Energy Secretary Rick Perry provide “a clear explanation for why DOE may be restricting its employees’ travel.” The Committee Chair indicated that the travel restrictions appear to be “arbitrary and capricious” as they were justified based on the partial government shutdown but “DOE is not impacted by the shutdown.”