EPA Staff Participation in Scientific Integrity Survey Restricted

Date: March 9th, 2018

Agency: EPA, Federal

Explanation: Government Censorship

Scientist: Climate, Other

On March 9, 2018, E&E News reported that scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been restricted from participating in an online survey intended to gather information on scientific integrity within the federal government. A link to the survey, which is being undertaken by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Iowa State University, was emailed to EPA scientists in early 2018. Despite EPA being notified in advance, its Computer Security Incident Response Center classified the email as spam, on the basis that it “stemm[ed] from an unknown entity.” A number of EPA scientists received an notice warning them that the survey “may NOT be legitimate, legal, and proper for EPA employees to complete.” This was, however, later corrected by EPA’s Office of General Counsel which indicated that “employees MAY participate [in the survey] in their personal capacities.”

UCS reports that, to date, participation in the survey by EPA scientists has been low. While up to 30% of EPA scientists have participated in the survey in past years, participation in this year’s survey currently stands at just 2%.

UpdateScientists at other agencies do not appear to have been prevented from participating in the survey.

On March 20, 2018, the assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wrote to employees encouraging them to participate in the survey.