Thursday, June 14, 2018

Scientists at USGS face new scrutiny from interior secretary on research presentations

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey must now submit their presentation titles for review by the Interior Department to get approval to attend two major conferences, and they will have to identify how their research relates to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's priorities. In guidelines posted on the agency's internal website this week and obtained by The Washington Post, the USGS's Office of Administration told employees they will have to provide a detailed "attendee justification" when applying for travel approval for the annual meetings of the American Geophysical Union in Washington and the Geological Society of America in Indianapolis later this year. Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort said Thursday that budget limitations mean the department "can only afford to send people who have a meaningful role at the conference. ... If taxpayer dollars are being spent to send someone to a conference, we'd like some degree of confidence that their attendance will advance the department's priorities," she said. But Chip Groat, who served as USGS director under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, called the new protocol unusual and "inappropriate." Bruce Babbitt, interior secretary during the Clinton administration, used stronger language: "It's a form of censorship." Conference attendance by federal employees has been under scrutiny since 2012, when it was revealed that the General Services Administration spent $823,000 on a Las Vegas conference that featured a mind reader and a $31,208 reception...MORE

The process whereby these agencies receive federal funding is totally political. From start to finish the funding is controlled by politicians. So it amazes me these DC Deep Thinkers believe the way they spend these funds should be divorced from politics.

This is not just small potatoes. Last year Interior capped those attending just one of the conferences at 199 employees and expenditures of no more than $399,000. If that was the "cap", how many and how much was spent the year before?

Political appointees have every right to control what is being studied and how the results of those studies are applied. Actually, its their responsibility to do so.

This idea of "give us the money, and then butt out of our business" is foolish and should no longer be tolerated. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Makes imminent good sense, it would be good if those that attended have to report on the sessions they attended or made a presentation to.