The corporate government agency NOAA, which oversees the national weather service, is forcing its employees to sign a non-disclosure document which prevents weather service workers from talking about climate engineering programs such as stratospheric aerosol geoengineering, ice nucleation for weather modification, and solar radiation management. What do they have to hide? Geoengineering patents are on file at the patent office. Public statements have been made by CIA director John Brennan in his speech at the council on foreign relations and by presidential science advisor John Holdren. The command to keep quiet, issued by NOAA director JoAnn Kagan, applies to all weather service and NOAA workers but apparantly CIA director Brennan did not get the memo….
For Immediate Release: Oct 08, 2015
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
WEATHER SERVICE EMPLOYEES TETHERED BY ILLEGAL GAG ORDERS
Special Counsel Asked to Reverse Recent Raft of Blanket Nondisclosure Policies
Posted on Oct 08, 2015
Washington, DC — National Weather Service employees face growing restrictions on their ability to disclose information about the inner workings of their agency, according to a complaint filed today by the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). They contend these gag orders are illegal and are pressing U.S. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner to lift these nondisclosure policies and take action against responsible officials.
A key provision of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 curbed the use of blanket nondisclosure policies or agreements, otherwise known as “gag orders,” implemented by federal agencies. The act lays out specific exceptions which must be included as a part of any such confidentiality directive.
“The National Weather Service knows it’s unethical for union representatives to keep critical information from the employees they represent. By the very nature of a union, we are bound to communicate with our members and include their input on decisions affecting their jobs,” said NWSEO Executive Vice President Bill Hopkins. “As a taxpayer, I find it highly disturbing that a government agency continues to push gag orders to hide how they operate. This is the work of the American government, owned by the American public, and should be open to the American public.”
The complaint cites three gag orders issued in recent weeks by the National Weather Service and its parent agencies, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Commerce. These orders forbid disclosure of information arising out of –
- Organizational planning. This confidentiality order forbids disclosure of anything about the Weather Service Organization Workforce Analysis, which has the effect of muzzling any revelations about agency planning and the rationale for planned actions;
- Grievance settlements. In July, the Commerce General Counsel instituted a policy that any settlement of grievances must include a nondisclosure clause. While it has an exception for “whistleblower cases” that exception comes nowhere close to meeting requirements of the WPEA and would block release of grievances involving actions by agency managers that constitute violations of law or regulation, waste of funds, mismanagement or abuse of authority; and
- Collective Bargaining. The National Weather Service has just added a confidentiality clause to its ground rules for Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations which requires that all information about the CBA bargaining process must be held “confidential.”
“The National Weather Service is about the last place where national security-style secrecy rules need to be enforced,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the broad scope of the gag orders put much of what goes on inside the agency under wraps. “Everyone is free to talk about the weather except for the people working inside the National Weather Service. Go figure.”
Imposition of a nondisclosure policy or order not meeting WPEA requirements is classified as a “prohibited personnel practice” contravening fundamental tenets of the federal merit system. The Office of Special Counsel has enforcement powers to abate such violations, including seeking disciplinary action against officials who commit them.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
962 Wayne Ave, Suite 610
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Tel: (202) 265-7337 ; Fax: (202) 265-4192
CHARLES S. CLARK | OCTOBER 8, 2015 | 5 COMMENTS
Weather Service Staffers Protest ‘Gag Orders’ in Workforce Planning
￼PIXSOOZ / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
The National Weather Service’s recent introduction of employee nondisclosure agreements concerning internal issues such as workforce planning, grievance procedures and collective bargaining has prompted a legal complaint from two employee groups.
The National Weather Service Employees Organization joined with the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Wednesday in writing to the Office of Special Counsel saying the moves by Weather Service managers are illegal “blanket nondisclosure policies or agreements, otherwise known as ‘gag orders’ ” under the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.
“The National Weather Service knows it’s unethical for union representatives to keep critical information from the employees they represent,” said NWSEO Executive Vice President Bill Hopkins in a statement. “By the very nature of a union, we are bound to communicate with our members and include their input on decisions affecting their jobs.”
The Weather Service “is about the last place where national security-style secrecy rules need to be enforced,” added PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, describing the impact of the three orders as broad. “Everyone is free to talk about the weather except for the people working inside the National Weather Service. Go figure.”
The nondisclosure orders issued by management at the NWS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Commerce Department forbid disclosure of information arising out of agency activities in workforce planning, settlement of grievance disputes and the collective bargaining process.
The complaint argues that such orders are classified as “a prohibited personnel practice” under the federal merit system enforced by the Office of Special Counsel.
The NWS released a statement saying the recent moves are a response to recommendations by the National Academy of Public Administration that it “identify the agency’s current capacity for delivering key services needed today and in the future. One significant driver behind this recommendation is that the current NWS staffing profiles were designed in the late 1980s to meet the needs of 1990s stakeholders and built around the limits of the technology of that time, which have since changed significantly,” it said. “This multi-year effort starts by first understanding how the NWS works today, what the strengths of its operating models, organizational structure and workforce are, and to understand the gaps or imbalances between them. This requires developing a baseline of the current situation and future projections.”
The Weather Service is committed to involving the union “throughout the project,” it said, “including developing evaluative criteria, weighing the pros and cons and assessing the feasibility of all options.” All participants were asked to sign a charter that includes a confidentiality clause before viewing material that is “pre-decisional” but a necessary part of the deliberations. “References to the expectation of confidentiality come from [Office of Personnel Management] guidance to agencies on best practices in implementing Executive Order 13522 – Establishing Labor Management Forums and Pre-decisional Involvement,” the statement continued. “It’s unfortunate that NWSEO representatives have refused to sign the confidentiality agreements,” it said. “Until that happens, we will and can only share information on the operations and workforce analysis project with NWSEO that has already been broadly distributed.”
Nick Schwellenbach, the Office of Special Counsel’s senior communications specialist, told Government Executive his office “will carefully review any claim of a (b)(13) violation filed with us. Agencies should familiarize themselves with this provision in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. OSC is also available to provide training to agencies on protecting federal employees’ right to blow the whistle without fear of retaliation or improper restraint.”
(Image via Pixsooz / Shutterstock.com)
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