Federal employees resist administration attempts to impose media gags
3 February 2017
Orders given last week by top officials at various federal agencies—including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Parks Service, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services—have caused confusion and concern among a number of the employees and scientists that work for these departments.
The Monday after Trump’s inauguration, the new administration imposed a freeze on new contracts and grants given by the EPA, $4 billion which funds research, redevelopment of industrial sites, outreach, water and air quality, according to Reuters. A media gag order was simultaneously put in place, with employees being told to halt all forms of external communications, including press releases, social media, blogs, list servs, webinars, speaking engagements and updates to the EPA website.
One EPA employee, who spoke to the non-profit investigative publication ProPublica anonymously, said that the hiring freeze wasn’t uncommon during a presidential transition, but that a freeze on grants and contracts seemed extraordinary. The employee also said that the freeze appeared to be nationwide.
Other agencies were given similar instructions. Employees at the Department of Health and Human Services were told not to send “any correspondence to public officials,” including members of Congress. A memo sent to employees at the Department of Agriculture stated that all communications with the media and social media posts had to be reviewed by the new administration. Officials at the Department of the Interior ordered the National Parks Service to halt posting on their social media accounts.
The next day, the Trump administration ordered the…