Despite a public mandate for meaningful change in the 2008 election, there remains a prevalent unwritten "culture of secrecy" in many Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices. This culture grew strong and deep-rooted during the eight Bush years, and there is no sign that it has weakened in the past year. BLM employees are strongly discouraged from sending any E-mails or preparing anything else in writing that describes known or potential wrongdoing or incompetence, or that questions decisions by managers. The obvious intent is to prevent creation of documents that could prove embarrassing or worse for managers, and that could subsequently become public through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, litigation discovery, or whistleblower investigation. Employees have been and are disciplined for violating this culture of secrecy. I know first-hand, because I'm one of them. If the Obama administration is serious about fostering more open, transparent, and accountable government, it must aggressively work to end this BLM culture of secrecy. BLM managers must be held accountable and strongly disciplined if they perpetuate this culture. And employees who resist this culture must have a safe and secure pathway to report grievances, and be rewarded rather than punished for their courage and integrity.
Idea No. 11