Federal Government in Lock-Down Mode

This is an interesting development:

The White House has shut down its public comment line some time in the past few weeks, instead telling callers, with an automated message, that they should contact the administration via Facebook Messenger instead. There’s only one problem: Neither the new White House administration nor President Donald Trump seem to currently maintain an active Facebook Messenger account.

Beyond that, Sam Stein summarizes how various federal departments are being told to cease communications.

Multiple federal agencies have told their employees to cease communications with members of Congress and the press, sources have told The Huffington Post.

The freeze has startled aides on the Hill and people at those agencies, who worry that it could abruptly upend current operations and stifle work and discussions that routinely take place between branches of government.

Agencies reporting that they have received such messages from the White House so far include:

  • the Department of Health and Human Services
  • the Environmental Protection Agency
  • the Department of Agriculture
  • the National Institutes of Health
  • the Department of Transportation

It is unclear at this point if other departments have received the same instructions. We also don’t know how long this communications black-out will last. Is this a permanent shut-down or something temporary until the White House is assured that it will be in control of what information is relayed publicly? Either way, it is unusual and a cause for concern when it comes to transparency.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.