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Privacy Policy  |  Permalink


 

Comments

    James M. Gaudin in Georgia writes:

    Publish research in progress and results on HHS website, with quarterly updates. Allow HHS scientists to publish results of studies without political editing or witholding of results. Aloow HHS researchers to express personal opinions on critical research and health policy issues without censoring, as long as they clearly state that their comments do not reflect official HHS agency positions.

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    Philip Lichtenberg in Kennett Square, PA writes:

    I agree with Tim. And I would urge the development of participatory democracy by local discussions of these issues.

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    Rick Ludescher in New Jersey writes:

    Open communication is of course the basis and foundation for trust among individuals and between individuals and the institutions of government. This policy is long overdue.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    MICHAEL in LOS ANGELES writes:

    Transparency and the ability to speak freely and without fear of repercussion are essential if we are to have the scientific data and research that we need.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Volunteer writes:

    1) Hitting the "Comment Policy" link on this comment form before hitting "submit" should not make my comment disappear so that I have to write it all over again. That's VERY frustrating, and very poor design. 2) Every major HHS program should have a regularly-updated website, and these websites should be set up in a timely fashion. The ESAR-VHP program, for instance, is several times older than my toddler and it STILL doesn't have a webpage. How the program is expected to achieve its goals, support the states in their volunteer recruitment efforts, make the case for cooperation to the local MRC units it relies on in many states, etc., without a webpage is beyond me. 3) I appreciate the ability to sign up for email notifications to alert me to changes at key HHS websites, but these emails should include a blurb telling me WHAT has changed, not simply a sentence telling me THAT something has changed.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Bill Coffin in ACF/DC writes:

    Emphasize the need to share both internally and externally. If we can't find some our own agency info, no wonder outsiders are left in the dark. Some think we must have something to hide if we don't post much more in various places and invite comments.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Glenn Whiteside in Monument, Colorado writes:

    The HHS must improve its media policy to allow free and open communication among scientists, the media, policy makers, and the public. Strong policies that protect the ability of scientists to communicate and participate fully in their scientific communities are essential components of an open and accountable government. It should be a government by the people and for the people and an open and accountable government is essential for this.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Michael in NY writes:

    Town Hall meetings around the nation to solicit ideas from the public as well as to educate taxpayers as to how their money is spend. A brief report on the activities of the HHS with some data should be included as a prelude to the discussions. These townhall meetings can be conducted as public forums and also should include universities as possible venues.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Timothy Donaghy in Washington, DC writes:

    Allow DHHS experts to speak freely to the public Unlike other federal departments such as the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) currently lacks a comprehensive policy governing how agency scientists and experts can interact with the public and the media. As a result, the ability of DHHS scientists to speak freely about their research is not uniformly protected and varies from agency to agency within DHHS. Placing data sets on the website only gets us part of the way to government transparency. The next big step will involve changing the culture of the department and allowing its experts to provide for context and interpretation of those data sets. Therefore, in order to promote transparency and the free exchange of scientific ideas, the DHHS should adopt a department-wide communications policy that protects the right of its employees to speak with the public and the media. Such "open" communications policies have already been adopted at places like NASA and NOAA and should pose no problems at the DHHS. Any such policy should incorporate the following principles: • Scientists and researchers may freely express their personal views. All federal employees have a right to express their personal views outside of a few narrow restrictions (such as releasing classified or proprietary information), provided that he or she makes an explicit disclaimer that he or she is speaking as a private citizen and is not seeking to represent official agency policy. He or she should be allowed to speak freely about his or her research and to offer his or her scientific analysis--even in situations where the research may be controversial or have implications for government policy. Agency policies governing communication with the media should make this option clear and explicit to employees. • A scientist or researcher has the right to review, amend, and comment publicly on the final version of any document or publication that significantly relies on his or her research, identifies him or her as an author or contributor, or purports to represent his or her scientific opinion. While editing by non-scientists is often necessary and useful, final review by scientific experts is essential to ensuring that accuracy has been maintained in the clearance process. • Agency employees have clearly defined responsibilities in working with the media. Employees are responsible for the accuracy and integrity of their communications and should not represent the agency on issues of politics or policy without prior approval from the agency’s public affairs officer (PAO). Employees are also responsible for working with the PAO to make significant research developments accessible and comprehensible to the public. • PAOs have clearly defined roles, such as responding promptly to media inquiries and providing journalists and agency staff with accurate information, but not acting as "gatekeepers" of information. Scientists and researchers should not be required to obtain pre-approval from the PAO before responding to a media request about their research. However, it is appropriate to require scientists and researchers to give the PAO prior notice of such interactions when possible, and to recap the interview afterward. • Public affairs staff should have a plan for disseminating the media policy to agency scientists and researchers and should conduct trainings in effective media communication that emphasize scientific openness. The official agency media policy should be publicly available on the agency website. Timothy Donaghy Scientific Integrity Analyst Union of Concerned Scientists

    Posted on Mon Mar 01, 2010 | Reply
     
    CWH in Illinois writes:

    I agree. UCS is doing important work.

    Posted on Thu Mar 04, 2010 | Reply
     
    Karel R in Michigan writes:

    This is an excellent set of suggestions that would help our government function on the best evidence-based information available.

    Posted on Thu Mar 04, 2010 | Reply
     
    Tim M. in Newton, MA writes:

    I support Timothy Donaghy's suggestions.

    Posted on Thu Mar 04, 2010 | Reply
     
    Gaia Mika in Taos, NM writes:

    I fully support the proposal submitted by the UCS

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    Robyn P. in VA writes:

    I concur with Tim D.

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    Arthur Gionti in Amherst, Massachusetts writes:

    I support the proposal of The Union of Concerned Scientists as posted by Timothy Donaghy.

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    David Leland in Claremont, CA writes:

    As a scientist who has interned at and worked externally with funding from HHS (NIH to be more specific), I agree with Donaghy and UCS' position.

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    grolydmd in Texas writes:

    I fully concur with Tim.

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    Jennifer Lauby in Voorhees, NJ writes:

    I support this proposal of the Union of Concerned Scientists

    Posted on Wed Mar 03, 2010 | Reply
     
    wclaiborn in Florida writes:

    I agree with these comments.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Peter Eriksson writes:

    I could not agree more with Tim Donaghy. We who work for DHHS and are presumably more informed about health care issues, are often flabbergasted when learning about the ignorance of the American people, not least concerning the present health care debate. Its absolutely vital for the public to have access to accurate and timely information from scientists, especially in areas of high importance and when lawmakers contemplate sweeping changes of national importance. Scientists should be encouraged, perhaps even mandated, to share scientific data of vital importance to the public (health care issues not least). There should be no interference from public affairs officers when a scientist which to share controversial data as long it has been vetted for scientific accuracy. The meddling in the scientific process and publication of data that was so common during the Bush administration must be prevented by the implementation of a comprehensive public policy governing media interactions by government scientists.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Linda Schermer in Sedona, AZ writes:

    This represents a necessary and important change from previous practice, in which non-scientists frequently changed intended meaning by selective editing.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    J. Paul Newell in Cartersville, GA writes:

    T Donaghy articulates a clear and viable policy position. What an opportunity we have further to open the scientific dialogues on the many issues that plagued us, without apparent hope of resolution, over the past eight years.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Patricia Downs, MD writes:

    I agree with the comments made by Timothy Donaghy. Politics should not trump true scientific facts when policy decisions are made. Allowing scientists to share their own personal views with the media helps promote transparency and truth in policy matters.

    Posted on Tue Mar 02, 2010 | Reply
     
    Dave T. in Florida writes:

    I have seen and heard a lot of complaints about the current and proposed Health Care/Health Insurance Reform legislation, but couldn't tell you what was in it because I haven't read it. I'd like to see a web site that a citizen could go to where you could easily get access to information and discuss the Health Care/Health Insurance Reform issue. Maybe this already exists, but I don't know how to get to it. We can not rely on the news media to evaluate something this important for us. The citizenry needs to act on facts. Once we know what is planned to be done about health care, we can make intelligent requests of our representatives in Congress on specific issues. The Health Care/Health Insurance Reform issue is too important an issue to leave to bureaucrats without specific guidance from the people.

    Posted on Mon Mar 01, 2010 | Reply
     
 
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