Group says some agencies stifle flow of scientific information

Federal agencies are inconsistent in how they share scientific information with the media and public and some agencies stifle the free exchange of data, according to a report issued today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), a non-profit group.

The group said it reviewed activities at 15 agencies and found major inconsistencies. Some have open policies, but are restrictive in practice, while others are the opposite, the UCS said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earned an A for policies that permit a free flow of information, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) received an F, the lowest grade possible. The Bureau of Land Management, Consumer Product and Safety Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service and Occupational Safety and Health Administration each earned a D.

"We've learned that with a little determination, agencies can become more responsive to the public through the media," Francesca Grifo, director of the organization’s Scientific Integrity Program, said in a news release. "But too many agencies have a long way to go. Too often the press and the public are being shortchanged."

At OSHA, the policy emphasizes controlling the agency’s message, the report said. More than 75 percent of the survey respondents did not feel free to speak their minds or feared retaliation for stating their personal views, UCS said. The group recommended an overhaul of policies and practices at that agency.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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