Does the First Amendment stop at the laboratory door?
Over the past decade, federal government scientists have expressed increasing concern over the extent to which they can speak their minds without retribution about matters that may affect public health. And the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit group, this month released a new report giving good grades for policies governing employee speech at most of 17 federal agencies that it examined.
The FDA, however, did not do so well.
By one measure, which looked at conventional media policies, the FDA received a ‘C.’ This type of policy determines whether scientists can speak freely; review materials they prepare; speak to the media without monitoring, and receive protection as whistleblowers, among other things. A second grade looked at whether scientists are restrained from using social media. The FDA received an incomplete.
As the advocacy group sees it, this is a problem. Why? In its report, the advocacy group maintains that, “sometimes, political or commercial forces interfere” with the ability of federal employees to provide input into evidence-based decisions. This can occur, the group alleges, by “altering data, silencing scientists or preventing vital scientific information from reaching those who need it.”
Thank You Mr Silverman and WSJ.