Post-NEA Conference Call Flap, White House Issues New Guidelines

By MichaelJames

Sep 24, 2009 7:40pm

White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton today posted a memo at WhiteHouse.gov.

Burton's blog post from a White House attorney explains guidelines for Obama administration officials conducting public outreach meetings.

"A recent administration conference call about the arts has generated some questions about how we go about achieving our commitment to public engagement," Burton wrote, referring to an NEA conference call in which artists were asked to help advance the president's agenda, a call that one good government group called "inappropriate."

You can read more about the controversy HERE.

"We wanted to make these guidelines public to answer questions about our policies and to make clear the steps we are taking to ensure that there is no further cause for questions or concerns about that commitment," Burton wrote. "Though we have made clear that the call was made with the best of intentions and we believe public engagement is an appropriate and vital part of effective governmental functioning, certain comments on the call raised appearance issues that troubled some participants."

In addition to the memo, Burton said, "We will be conducting further training sessions and personal visits with staff here to make sure the message gets across," as well as, "a meeting with the chiefs of staff of the executive branch agencies," and, "a series of training sessions at the White House to discuss rules and best practices in this area."

The memo from special White House counsel Norm Eisen, advises officials to be even-handed, make selections based on merit, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

It can be read HERE.

- jpt

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