Federal Research: Policies Guiding the Dissemination of Scientific Research from Selected Agencies Should Be Clarified and Better Communicated, Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 3MB]

"Researchers at federal agencies disseminate their research results through a variety of approaches, including scientific publications, presentations, press releases, and media interviews. Because of recent concerns about some federal researchers possibly being restricted from disseminating their research on controversial topics, GAO determined (1) the policies that guide the dissemination of federal research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); (2) how effectively these agencies have communicated their policies to researchers; and (3) the extent to which researchers have been restricted in disseminating their research. GAO conducted a survey of 1,811 researchers randomly selected at the three agencies, and had a 66 percent response rate. GAO is making recommendations to the Department of Commerce, NASA, NIST, and NOAA to clarify their dissemination polices for press releases and media interviews, ensure researchers have a policy for appealing dissemination decisions, and provide training on these policies. In commenting on a draft of this report, Commerce, responding for NIST, NOAA, and itself, generally concurred with GAO's findings and recommendations, as did NASA."

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