The Department of Energy has released new regulations aimed at protecting researchers from political pressure, the Verge reports. Ernest Moniz, the outgoing secretary, announced the rules at the National Press Club, it adds.
The new policy states "all scientists, engineers, or others supported by DOE are free and encouraged to share their scientific findings and views." In addition, it says researchers may share their personal opinions on scientific or technical policy matters so long as they don't say they are speaking for the department. It also calls for the creation of an ombudsperson for scientific integrity.
The Verge notes that this policy comes on the heels of President-elect Donald Trump's transition team asking the DOE to supply the names of researchers there who attended climate change meetings.
It adds that as DOE is a major funder of research, the policy could have widespread effects. However, it says that as a policy, it is easy to undo. "But it still has symbolic power, since the immediate reversal of a scientific integrity policy would not paint the new administration in a positive light," the Verge says.