Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, located in Atlanta, Georgia, were called into a meeting with senior CDC officials on Thursday to go over a list of seven words or phrases that are banned from the upcoming budget. Alison Kelly, the senior leader in the agency’s Office of Financial Services who led the meeting, did not give a reason as to why the words were banned and told the group of analysts that she was only relaying the information.
The newly forbidden words are, “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The analysts were given alternate phrases for only some of the banned words: instead of “science-” or “evidence-based”, the newly suggested phrase is the “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
Matt Lloyd, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, told The Washington Post they “will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans, and the HHS strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”
Several offices at the CDC are responsible for work that includes some of the terms. The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is working on ways to prevent HIV among transgender people and to reduce health disparities. The word ‘fetus’ is used extensively in the CDC’s work on birth defects caused by the Zika virus.
The CDC’s budget is outlined to reflect an administration’s priorities, and once completed is sent to the CDC’s parters as well as Congress. The policy analyst, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition they remain anonymous, could not recall a time when words were banned from budget documents on the basis that they were controversial. According to the analyst, the meeting resulted in an “incredulous” reaction. “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding? In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint.”
Featured Image Via MIT Technology Review.