“Big Brother is Watching You.”
― George Orwell,
WASHINGTON ― 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.
Officials at sub-agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services, for example, have been told not to send “any correspondence to public officials” according to a memo shared with HuffPost. Instead, they have been asked to refer questions to agency leadership until the leadership has had time to meet with incoming White House staff about the new administration’s policies and objectives, according to a congressional official who was also informed of the communications freeze.
An official with the National Institutes of Health told HuffPost that an email had been sent to the directors of NIH institutes and centers providing guidance from HHS on how to handle new or pending regulation, policy or guidance.
“The HHS guidance instructs HHS Operating Divisions to hold on publishing new rules or guidance in the Federal Register or other public forums and discussing them with public officials until the Administration has had an opportunity to review them,” the official said.
It’s unclear how wide the freeze goes, however, as an official close to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that agency was unaware of any such freeze.