How bad is it in other government departments?

A while ago now I presented the recent changes to the publication approval procedures in the Central and Arctic region of DFO, which has received a fair amount of attention in the media- collaborators are getting panicky about what this means to them reporting their work in a timely fashion, and many are wondering what it means for us as government scientists actually being able to report our findings in the scientific literature (let alone communicate it to the public).

It’s got me wondering what the situation is like elsewhere- is it the case that no one had noticed how relaxed things were in this particular region, and now we’re being brought into line with other regions? How does this process work in Pacific region? Maritimes? What about other government departments- Environment Canada, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, National Defense- what are your publication procedures like? Are they worse than what we’re experiencing? Not as bad?

I would appreciate any insights as comments below- I’ll remind everyone that the identifying fields are not required to leave a comment here, you can do so safely anonymously.

The best I can do so far is some (unconfirmed) rumors I had heard swirling about that one office in Environment Canada where no one was in a director position to sign off on any publications- due to retirement of that person or something- that this situation left no mechanism to obtain approval from anywhere else, and that this was holding up all kinds of work from coming out, until someone else was in the position permanently. This seems totally outlandish, so I’m hoping someone can give me the actual story.


3 thoughts on “How bad is it in other government departments?

  1. Here’s a relevant post from an anonymous person that submitted a comment directly to me:

    I imagine muzzling is widespread in some Federal Labs but my impression is that the proportion of neglect and suppression is even higher. NRC seems to be actively hiding the publications and other scientific outputs of its scientists – especially if it derives from the “old” pre-McDougall NRC. By this I mean no press releases, no highlights on the website, and no scientist talking to the Media. Scientific discoveries that taxpayers paid for are hidden behind journal paywalls with no ability of the scientists involved to provide perspective.

    I would tend to agree. I see our communications department work very hard around the search for the Franklin expedition, but have nothing in place to actively help promote the work of their own scientists.

  2. Left as an anonymous comment on the contact me form:

    Environment Canada employees have been waiting for months for travel approval for the Canadian meteorological and oceanographic society ( . It starts the 26th, since we still don’t have approval many had to withdraw abstracts and pull out. Honest delay or new muzzling tactic? This seems like a new approach, instead of needing minders, don’t let the scientists go in the first place.

    I and others in DFO experience this kind of thing all the time. You request months or a year in advance, and they tell you days before the conference. It’s one of the most brutal aspects I’ve encountered. Straight-up denail is one thing- dragging your bureaucratic heels such that it forces you to break deadlines and unable to attend because you don’t have approval is underhanded.

    However, it would appear that we can grieve this with our unions- see my recent reply post over here: Maybe if enough of us start filing grievances, they’ll know we are fed up.

  3. Things are okay, but not great in Defence. There’s a confounding factor in that new legal restrictions have come in with respect to ‘controlled goods technical data’, that makes it difficult to get things that are basically unclassified out, and has introduced a huge bureaucratic burden on getting even internal documents published. Some Centres are handling it better than others.

    My current concern is that because that tends to restrict anything applied, but they want more and more of the work we do to be directly applied – arguing that we can still show ‘creativity’ on our evaluations by creative application of existing methods. There are journals that will publish that sort of work, but it’s not as likely if you have to throw out the specifics and inject made up data. We either need the time to be properly creative, or they need to change their expectations about where we publish.

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