Help Support Government Participation in Scientific Meetings!

22 June 2012
AGU Science Policy Alert 12-27

Several pieces of legislation currently being reviewed in Congress and a recent White House directive aim to severely limit federal employees from participating in conferences, including non-governmental scientific meetings like the AGU Fall Meeting.

A very important means by which progress is made in scientific research is in the exchange of ideas that takes place at scientific meetings and conferences.  At these events, scientists from academia, industry, and government, as well as students studying to become scientists, come together to formally present and discuss their research and learn about research by others that may have implications for their work.  This exchange of ideas and review of results is integral to scientific integrity and the scientific process.

There are a few ways in which you can help support government participation in scientific meetings:

    1. Contact the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  OMB Memorandum M-12-12prevents Federal agencies from meeting the directives established in OSTP’s Scientific Integrity memo, signed 17 months prior, which directs Federal agencies to “encourage presentation of research findings at professional meetings” and “allow full participation in professional societies.”

Email OMB and request that OMB amend the Memorandum M-12-12 language so that federal employees may continue to attend scientific non-governmental conferences.

    1. Contact Your Legislator.  Section 308 of the  Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) of 2012 (H.R. 2146), being reviewed by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Amendment 2060 (S. AMDT 2060, Section 501) included in the 21st Century Postal Services Act (S.1789), passed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and awaiting action in the House, would severely restrict the participation of Federal government scientists in scientific meetings and conferences.

Click the Take Action links below to email your legislators and ask them to allow Federal employees to continue to participate in non-governmental scientific conferences by amending the language in Section 308 of H.R. 2146 (House)/S. AMDT 2060 (Senate).  After clicking on the links, you will find “Speaking Points” you may wish to include in your email.

  1. Share Examples with AGU. In an effort to convey to lawmakers the importance of government scientists’ participation in scientific meetings, AGU is asking for its members to share examples of societally-relevant scientific work resulting from collaboration between government and academic and/or industry scientists at AGU meetings.  Please send your stories to the AGU Public Affairs Team at sciencepolicy@agu.org.  You may also include these examples when contacting OMB and your legislators.

***Please note that Federal employees should contact their governmental relations office before taking action and are encouraged to share this information with their colleagues outside government.

Please contact AGU Public Affairs staff if you have any questions regarding this issue. For assistance on how to find and contact your Congressional Representative, please visit the AGU Science Policy webpage.