The June 29, 2009 issue of the Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor has a very disturbing article, “DOE's New Transparency Policy--A Closed Door,” about how journalists were told to leave the room when a senior level DOE official spoke to a group of lobbyists and private interests. Below is a summary of the article:
Raising questions about the Department of Energy's committed to its oft-stated pledges of openness and transparency, journalists were told to leave the room shortly before new Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman was to speak at this year's Energy Facility Contractors Group meeting in Washington last week. While no explanation was given at the time, according to those present, the move was apparently intended to ensure that journalists not only didn't cover, but couldn't even hear, a routine address on DOE's priorities under the Obama Administration and efforts to address climate change. In what one can only hope was meant with a sense of irony, Poneman reportedly also stressed the need for improved transparency at DOE in a speech closed to the news media. Poneman was the only DOE official whose remarks journalists were not allowed to cover at last week's meeting, which was also attended by Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Ines Triay and other DOE officials....Last week's incident seems to run in the face of DOE's efforts to be more transparent, which have gone into overdrive since the Department received billions of dollars in additional funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To ensure that the funds are used without suspicion, DOE has flooded its Web sites with reports on how the money will be used, has posted accounts of every meeting between officials and lobbyists concerning the stimulus funds and even, on occasion, instructed lobbyists to leave public meetings when the Recovery Act was to be discussed. It is the latter that heightens the irony of last week's incident, given that a number of lobbyists representing DOE contractors were allowed to hear Poneman's remarks, while members of the media, who would disseminate them to a wider audience, were pushed away.
-- Ingrid Drake