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Task forces get ground rules for talking to media

Officials try to manage the message for task forces dealing with state issues.{img:197495}

We noticed this week that the draft charter for the Task Force on Health Care Cost Review includes some guidelines on talking to the press.

"While not precluded from communicating with the media, Task Force members agree to generally defer to the Chairperson for all media communications related to the Task Force process and its recommendations," the task force's draft charter states. "Task Force members agree to not negotiate through the media, or to use the media to undermine the work of the Task Force. Task Force members agree to raise all of their concerns, especially those being raised for the first time, at a Task Force meeting and not in or through the media."

We're told that it's standard language applied to other task forces — such as the task force on finding a sustainable funding source for Fish, Wildlife and Related Outdoor Recreation and Education, initially convened in 2015 — and is intended to encourage discussion in the task force meeting first, where all attendees are privy to the discussion and can respond to the points raised.

There's a handful of task forces in state government, and they typically consist of legislators and citizen experts in the relevant subject area trying to address a specific issue, such as campaign finance or the handling of sexual assault forensic evidence kits.