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FOMC Policy on External Communications of Committee Participants¹
as adopted June 22, 2011

PREAMBLE1

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

The Federal Open Market Committee
(FOMC) is committed to providing clear and
timely information to the public about the
Committee’s monetary policy actions and the
rationale for those decisions. Indeed, considerable evidence indicates that central bank
transparency increases the effectiveness of
monetary policy and enables households and
businesses to make better-informed decisions.
Two-way communication with the public is
a crucial element in the FOMC’s monetary
policy process. Committee participants have
regular contacts with members of the public as
part of the process of gathering the information the Committee needs to understand current economic and financial conditions. In
addition, the FOMC’s public accountability is
strengthened by open discussion of Committee participants’ views about the economic
outlook as well as their judgments about the
appropriate course of monetary policy.
Therefore, to reinforce the public’s confidence in the transparency and integrity of the
monetary policy process, the FOMC has established the following principles to govern
Committee participants’ contacts with members of the public. The FOMC itself maintains responsibility for ensuring that all Committee participants—that is, the members of
the Federal Reserve Board and the presidents
of the Federal Reserve Banks—abide by these
principles.2

1. Committee participants will endeavor to
enhance the public’s understanding of monetary policy. They are free to explain their
individual views but are expected to do so in a
spirit of collegiality and to refrain from characterizing the views of other individuals on
the Committee. In explaining the rationale for
announced FOMC decisions, participants will
draw on Committee communications and the
Chairman’s press conference remarks as appropriate.
2. To foster the ongoing frank exchange of
views at FOMC meetings, Committee participants will refrain from publicly characterizing such discussions beyond what has
been published in the minutes of each FOMC
meeting.
3. To protect the independence of the
FOMC’s decision-making process from shortterm political pressures, participants will
strive to avoid any appearance of political
partisanship and will be prudent in selecting
venues for their speaking engagements.
4. FOMC participants will carefully safeguard all confidential information.3 No confidential FOMC information may be released
except pursuant to Committee instructions or
with written authorization from the Chairman
and prompt notification to the FOMC.
5. To the fullest extent possible, Committee participants will refrain from describing
their personal views about monetary policy in
any meeting or conversation with any individual, firm, or organization who could profit
financially from acquiring that information
unless those views have already been expressed in their public communications.
6. Committee participants will strive to

1

The Committee’s policy governing the external
communications of Federal Reserve System staff is
set forth in a separate document.
2
This policy is fully consistent with and complements the more general policies for ethical conduct
published in the Federal Reserve Administrative
Manual (FRAM) section 2-026.1 (“Ethics—
Voluntary Guide to Conduct for Senior Officials”).
That section recognizes the overarching principle
that senior Federal Reserve officials “have a special
responsibility for maintaining the integrity, dignity,
and reputation of the System” and “should scrupulously avoid conduct that might in any way tend to
embarrass the System or impair the effectiveness of
its operations.” The policy in this document focus-

es specifically on external communications and is
binding on all FOMC participants.
3
The Committee’s regulations concerning the designation and handling of confidential FOMC information are set forth in a separate document,
“Program for Security of FOMC Information,”
available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/mone
tarypolicy/files/FOMC_InformationSecurityProg
ram.pdf.

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FOMC Policy on External Communications of Committee Participants
ensure that their contacts with members of the
public do not provide any profit-making person or organization with a prestige advantage
over its competitors. They will consider this
principle carefully and rigorously in scheduling meetings with anyone who might benefit
financially from apparently exclusive contacts
with Federal Reserve officials and in considering invitations to speak at meetings that are
sponsored by profit-making organizations or
that are closed to the public and the media.
7. To facilitate the effectiveness of the
Committee’s policy deliberations and the clarity of its communications, participants observe
a blackout period on monetary policy communication that begins on the Tuesday morning
of the week prior to each regularly-scheduled
FOMC meeting and ends at midnight Eastern
Time on the Thursday following the meeting.
During each blackout period, participants refrain from expressing their views about macroeconomic developments or monetary policy issues in meetings or conversations with
members of the public.

non-profit entity and does not involve fundraising. Such a speech might be given at an
academic institution, a conference sponsored by a non-profit organization, or a
meeting sponsored by a civic or trade association (such as a chamber of commerce or
a state or national bankers’ association).
2. An interview with the press regarding
the participant’s personal views on monetary policy issues.
3. A private meeting with members of
the public—such as bankers, community
representatives, industry representatives, or
labor representatives—to collect information about the economy without disseminating any information about the participant’s
personal views on monetary policy unless
those views have already been expressed in
their public communications. Whenever
practical, a public information officer or
other Federal Reserve staff should be
present at such a meeting.
In contrast, the following contacts would
not be consistent with the principles set out
above:
1. Disclosure in any setting of confidential FOMC information.
2. Disclosure or characterization in any
setting of the views that others expressed at
an FOMC meeting.
3. A prediction about Committee action
in advance of the Committee announcement
of its decision.
4. A private meeting with selected
clients of a regulated entity or financial firm
to discuss monetary policy.
Of course, the foregoing examples are not
intended to serve as an exhaustive list, and
hence good judgment will be essential in applying these principles.

PRACTICAL EXAMPLES
To assist FOMC participants in understanding the application of these principles, the
Committee has considered how the principles
should be applied to some common requests
for public contact. For example, the following
contacts would generally be consistent with
the Committee’s policy on external communications, as long as the participant carefully
adheres to all of the principles listed above
during the contact itself:
1. A speech on a monetary policy topic
at a widely-attended event with press in attendance, where the event is organized by a

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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102