Guidance For NOAA Employees
Regarding Implementation and Interpretation of DAO 219-1
March 29, 2007, the Department of Commerce issued a new Administrative
Order, DAO 219-1, establishing the policy for Department employees engaging
in public communications. This guidance provides employees with information
as to how NOAA will implement and interpret certain key provisions of
NOAA’s Line Offices has unique roles, responsibilities and duties,
and as such, is encouraged to use the Order’s flexibility to continue
its practices. NOAA supports robust discussion about its science and
an open dialogue with the public and the media. These guidelines will
help ensure the results of the agency’s research are widely shared.
for certain disclosures
Order does not apply to disclosure of information under the terms
of the Whistleblower Protection Act or the Federal Service Labor-Management
Definitions (see DAO 219-1 for complete definitions)
Any communication intended for, or reasonably expected to have, broad
distribution outside the U.S. government.
Research Communication: Public Communication prepared as part
of your job regarding the products of basic or applied research in
science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published
and shared broadly within the scientific community. Matters of policy,
budget or management are not considered Fundamental Research Communications.
Communication: Public Communication, including news releases,
that is prepared as part of your job. An Official Communication involving
science or similar research material is not a Fundamental Research
Communication, but the science involved cannot be altered by public
Public Communication that takes place and is prepared non-officially
(off duty and without government resources).
Communication of Interest:
Communication that is a matter of official interest to the Department
because it relates to an employee’s job, area of expertise or
219-1 explicitly allows researchers to publicly discuss the results
of basic or applied research in science or engineering – termed
“Fundamental Research Communications” -- without prior
approval from NOAA’s Office of Communications. This includes
- In these
discussions or interviews, you may draw scientific conclusions from
your research. If your conclusion could be misunderstood as an official
NOAA position when it is not, you should say that it is your individual
conclusion and not the view of the Department or NOAA.
are encouraged, but not required, to use your public affairs specialist
to facilitate interviews. If a member of the media requests an interview
on a Fundamental Research Communication through public affairs, and
you agree, the Communications Office will facilitate the interview.
are no longer required to submit anticipated questions and answers
prior to media interviews unless requested to do so by public affairs.
will get clear written feedback about decisions made under the Order.
You may appeal decisions with which you disagree. A ruling on your
appeal should be made within two business days. Any scientific appeals
will be decided by a senior career employee.
releases submitted for review will undergo an approval process not
to exceed four business days when practicable (a goal of two business
days at the respective line office and two business days at NOAA headquarters.)
What’s The Same?
Office of Communications can help you prepare for and make the most
of your media interview or other public speaking opportunity.
must continue to work through your public affairs specialist for Official
Communications intended for the news media, such as news releases,
news conferences, and media interviews. This does not apply to Fundamental
public affairs materials are Official Communications; however, public
affairs specialists may not alter the substance of the science contained
in the news release. The researcher has the right to review edits
to public affairs materials and will be consulted before the communication
media interviews must be “on the record” unless advised
otherwise by your public affairs specialist.
are not required to speak to the news media.
respect to Fundamental Research Communications, Official Communications,
and Non-Official Communications of Interest, you should continue to
follow current practices in your organization regarding review and,
where required, approval of materials. If your organization has no
current practice, you should submit materials to your immediate supervisor.
Your immediate supervisor may re-delegate approval authority as appropriate.
- For example, with respect to Fundamental Research Communications,
if your organization has an existing practice of allowing publication
of scientific papers subject only to the peer review process,
then submitting a scientific paper to that peer review process
is sufficient for these purposes.
note that only review, not approval, is necessary for Non-Official
Communications of Interest. Any comments or conclusions by the
reviewer are only advisory in nature. In other words, NOAA will
not prohibit your Non-Official Communication of Interest, although
you do remain responsible for compliance with applicable laws
respect to Official Communications, you must submit materials in a
“timely manner.” Sections 8, 9. “Timely manner”
for this purpose should typically be at least five business days prior
to the communication being delivered.
respect to Fundamental Research Communications and Official Communications,
the reviewing official must complete a review in a “timely manner.”
Sections 7-9. “Timely manner” for this purpose should
typically be no more than five business days after the communication
is submitted for review.
review of Non-Official Communications of Interest is limited to matters
of official interest to NOAA that relate to your job or area of expertise
or duties as a NOAA employee. For example, the review requirement
does not apply to a letter to the editor by a NOAA employee commenting
on the Census Bureau’s plans for the upcoming census.
materials that are Non-Official Communications of Interest will be
reviewed within two business days. The Order requires that review
of Non-Official Communications of Interest be completed within fourteen
days. The reviewer may not disapprove a Non-Official Communication
of Interest, but she or he may note one of the issues for which you
remain responsible listed below. If the reviewer does not respond
by the fourteenth day, you are free to proceed with the communication.
You remain responsible, however, to ensure you are not improperly
releasing information otherwise protected from disclosure (e.g., classified
information; Privacy Act information), violating applicable ethics
regulations or statutes, or improperly attributing your personal views
to the Department (or creating a public perception of that).
Communications with the Media
respect to Official Communications intended for the media (which do
not include Fundamental Research Communications), you should submit
materials to the appropriate line office or subject matter public
affairs specialist as the appropriate official to receive materials
public affairs specialist is listed here by line office and subject
spokespeople designated by the NOAA Office of Communications are authorized
to speak on behalf of NOAA and the Department in an official capacity
regarding matters of policy, budget, or management. The NOAA Office
of Communications will designate such spokespeople.
involved in approved media events (news conferences, interviews) or
approved news releases should promptly respond to media questions.
Questions about policy or regulatory actions, budget and management
issues must be referred to the designated public affairs specialist.
- If you
are contacted by the media with regard to Official Communications,
you must notify your public affairs specialist before responding so
the specialist can decide whether he or she needs to be involved in
that these requirements apply only to Official Communications with
the media, not Fundamental Research Communications.
to Weather and Other Public Safety Information
Order’s requirements regarding prior review of Official Communications
do not apply to emergency-related communications or dissemination
of routine weather or public-safety related communications. You may
engage in these types of communications without obtaining prior approval.
- In an
emergency, particularly where there is an imminent risk to life or
property, you may make an Official Communication related to the emergency
without obtaining prior approval.
Weather Service employees and others in NOAA who have public safety
or incident response duties may communicate routine weather and other
public safety information (e.g., weather events, hazard response operations,
and marine mammal strandings) without obtaining prior approval.
immediate supervisor determines if a communication is a public communication,
and if so, the type of public communication. The supervisor will determine
the nature of the communication in a timely manner. Section 12.01.
For this purpose, “timely manner” should typically be
within one business day.
- If you
disagree with a decision made under the Order, you may appeal the
decision in writing within 45 days.
respect to all appeals under Section 12, NOAA has designated the Assistant
Administrator or the Corporate Office Director for the employee’s
office as the official to receive and decide the appeal. For scientific
appeals under Sec. 12.02, if the designated official is not a career
employee, the most senior career employee below the designated official
is designated to receive and decide the appeal.
- An explanation
of an appeal’s resolution will be provided in writing to all
interested agency parties.
- If the
employee is dissatisfied with the appeal’s resolution, an additional
appeal may be made to the Office of the Under Secretary.
guidance is effective immediately for all non-bargaining unit employees.
Organizations with bargaining units must ensure that all labor relations
obligations have been met in the implementation of these interim guidelines,
and NOAA’s Office of Communications will assist accordingly
to address those requirements.