Guidelines (and Some Common Sense) Regarding Political Activities
By William Luck, Senior Attorney, and Matt Howard, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Both of us have been responding to questions surrounding employee participation in political and advocacy activities, such as the forthcoming March for Science on April 22 and local elections. We agree that now is a good time to review the types of political activities in which Argonne employees may participate and which they may not.
The right we share as U.S. citizens, residents and visitors to express our individual opinions through speech, writing and other forms of communication is one of the great things about our country. As individuals, we are free to exercise our right to free expression, including running for office and working for or otherwise supporting political candidates, as long as we act in our personal capacities and use our own time and resources. In the case of scientific associations inviting their members to discussions and activities, engagement is appropriate, again on your own time and with your own resources.
As a federally funded research and development center, however, Argonne must remain neutral on political activities, policy or funding levels in public forums. To protect you and the lab, should you choose to participate in political activities, you cannot use work hours or Argonne equipment such as telephones, computers and the computer network, copy machines, and the internal mail system for such purposes. For instance, forwarding an email that an employee receives from a political candidate in response to a call for action or support, regardless of whether the forwarding would be to or from a laboratory computer, would not be an allowable activity.
For further guidance, refer to lab policies on Employee Conflicts of Interest, Employee Conduct and Communications with the Public, News Media, and Government Agencies. Remember that these guidelines extend to your online presence as well and use common sense when deciding to post on social media or other web forums.
During this time, you can rest assured that lab leadership is doing everything possible to engage and educate our stakeholders and share stories of this lab’s multifaceted research and the value we bring to the nation. We realize that this short blog post could never cover every situation an employee might face; if you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: email@example.com at ext. 2-3040; or firstname.lastname@example.org at ext. 2-7930.