The government is looking into how a scientist who used a government-provided email account to share scientific information could be considered a whistle-blower, according to a new report from the government watchdog group Common Cause.
The report found that the information shared was not public and was not in the public domain, even though the science was public.
The emails sent by the scientist, who works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were part of a public-records request, which was filed in May and released last month.
They show the scientist was trying to learn about the climate change problem and other issues during the transition to a post-2020 era.
The data set that the scientist sent to NOAA was not included in a public data set on the agency, Common Cause’s report found.
That meant the agency would have no way to verify whether the information was accurate.
Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said the government should not have allowed the scientist to use the public-facing email account of a government agency.
The scientist used it for about a year until the government asked him to stop.
Common Call, an independent scientific group that monitors government and business behavior, is also investigating.
The report is based on public records requests and a review of court filings related to the case.
The scientist was charged with unauthorized disclosure of government information and is being held without bail.
The Department of Justice, which oversees the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said it is reviewing the report.