Fish and Wildlife Service announces revised media policy

Editor's note:  Below is the newly revised media policy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  I suggest you read my article also on this website's homepage "Two-faced Fish in a Barrel" and Felix Smith's comments  (scroll down)  before you conclude how effective the new media policy will be. There should be something in the policy about not swearing at reporters.
     Lloyd
 
 
Memorandum of June 29, 2012

To:  All U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Employees

From:            Director

Subject:        New Service media and communications policies

We can’t accomplish our wildlife conservation mission without the support and engagement of the public and our partners.  That support in turn rests on people’s ability to trust the accuracy and integrity of our public communications.  All of us have a role in establishing and maintaining that trust.

That’s why I’m excited to announce the approval of newly revised U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Manual chapters that establish the Service’s media and communications policies.  These chapters, which have been completely updated for the first time in more than two decades, have been expressly designed to ensure the integrity of the information we provide to the media, and to foster a culture of openness and transparency as we seek to inform and engage the public and our partners in the Service’s conservation mission.

These chapters reflect the Department of the Interior’s newly revised Media Policy, and protect your right to speak about your work and the work of the Service – as long as you make it clear that your opinions may not necessarily reflect those of the agency.  At the same time, the Service has the right to determine who speaks for the agency in an official capacity, and under what circumstances.

In the future, if you receive a call from the media, you should notify your External Affairs office before granting an interview or providing information, in order to give the agency the opportunity to determine how best to respond in an official capacity.  If we determine that an official response is not warranted or designate another employee to serve as a spokesperson, you still have the right to speak to the reporter and offer your opinion in an unofficial capacity.

While the policy protects the right of employees to express their personal opinions, it does not permit the disclosure of information that is exempt from disclosure under the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act or as otherwise restricted by law, regulation or policy. Examples of such information include classified or procurement sensitive information and information subject to privilege, including deliberative, pre-decisional information or attorney-client communications.

I encourage you to read and understand your rights and responsibilities under these chapters. To view them, visit http://www.fws.gov/policy/manuals <http://www.fws.gov/policy/manuals/> .  Your External Affairs Office has additional information about the media policy and how it may affect you.

I expect everyone in the Service to respect the spirit and the letter of these chapters.  They lay the foundation for transparent, effective communication that supports the Service’s mission and fulfills our obligation to inform and engage the American people.

Dan

Dan Ashe,
Director