Public Communication by USGS Scientists Restricted

On June 21, 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that a new media protocol issued by the Department of the Interior (DOI) restricts federal scientists’ ability to speak to journalists. According to the report, under the new protocol, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) must obtain approval from DOI before agreeing to interview requests from journalists. The protocol permits DOI to reject interview requests on scientific matters.

USGS employees have expressed concern that the new protocol “represents a dramatic change” in media policy and “will interfere with scientists’ ability” to speak publicly. However, according to a DOI spokesperson, “the characterization that there is any new policy or that it for some reason targets scientists is completely false.”