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FOMC Policy on External Communications of Federal Reserve System
Staff ¹
as adopted June 22, 2011


In the course of making monetary policy
decisions, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) makes extensive use of background materials prepared by the staff of the
Federal Reserve System, and senior staff give
regular briefings at FOMC meetings. In addition, staff are directly involved in the implementation and communication of the Committee’s policy decisions.
Federal Reserve System staff have contacts
with members of the public in the process of
gathering information about current economic
and financial conditions. In addition, staff
synthesize that information using a variety of
analytical methods and statistical tools, and
the continual refinement of these methods and
tools is facilitated by ongoing interactions
with academic researchers, staff at foreign
central banks, and other outside analysts. Finally, staff play a significant role in helping
the public understand the rationale for FOMC
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 the public contacts of Federal Reserve System staff who
have access to confidential FOMC information.2 The FOMC maintains responsibility for
ensuring that all System staff abide by these
principles. Specifically, the President of each
Federal Reserve Bank is responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of FOMC information
at that Bank and for the conduct and discretion
of that Bank’s staff with regard to the use of
that information, and the Chairman fulfills this
role for Board staff.

1. Federal Reserve staff play a significant
role in enhancing public understanding of the
FOMC’s actions, thereby promoting the effectiveness of monetary policy. In all communications with the public regarding monetary
policy issues, members of the official staff
should refrain from publicly expressing their
own personal views regarding prospective
monetary policy decisions and should never
speculate about future monetary policy decisions or actions that have not been announced
by the Committee. In explaining the rationale
for announced FOMC decisions, staff should
draw on Committee communications, the
Chairman’s press conference remarks, and
other published materials as appropriate.
Whenever staff make public comments on
monetary policy, they should clearly indicate
that those comments are solely their own responsibility and should not be interpreted as
representing the views of the FOMC, its principals, or any other person associated with the
Federal Reserve System.
2. To foster the ongoing frank exchange of
views at FOMC meetings, staff will refrain
from characterizing such discussions—apart
from what has been published in the minutes
of each FOMC meeting—in any contact with
an individual, firm, or organization outside of
the Federal Reserve System.
3. To protect the independence of the
FOMC’s decision-making process from shortterm political pressures, members of the official staff will strive to avoid any appearance
of political partisanship in their contacts with
the public.
4. Staff will carefully safeguard all confidential FOMC information.3 No confidential
information may be released except pursuant


This document complements the FOMC policy
regarding the external communication of Committee participants, which is set forth in a separate
This policy is fully consistent with and complements the rules for ethical conduct prescribed for
the staff of the Board of Governors and for staff at
each Federal Reserve Bank.

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


FOMC Policy on External Communications of Federal Reserve System Staff
to Committee instructions or with written authorization from the Chairman and prompt
notification to the Committee.
5. To ensure that no member of the public
is able to profit financially from acquiring
nonpublic information about economic and
financial conditions or about the methods and
tools that are currently being used to assess
those conditions, staff will not provide such
information to any individual, firm, or organization outside of the Federal Reserve System
unless the information has been cleared for
publication and is made widely available to
the public.
6. Staff will strive to 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 considering invitations to speak
at meetings sponsored by profit-making organizations and in scheduling meetings with
anyone who might benefit financially from
apparently-exclusive contacts with Federal
Reserve staff.
7. To facilitate the effectiveness of the
Committee’s policy deliberations and the clarity of its communications, staff observe the
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, staff refrain
from providing information to members of the
public about macroeconomic or financial developments or about current or prospective
monetary policy issues unless that information
has already been cleared for publication and
made widely available to the public prior to
the blackout period.

following contacts would generally be consistent with the Committee’s policy on external
communications, as long as the staff member
carefully adheres to all of the principles listed
above during the contact itself:
1. A presentation at a widely-attended
meeting, where the event is organized by a
non-profit entity and does not involve fundraising. Such a meeting might be sponsored
by an academic institution, non-profit organization, or civic or trade association
(such as a chamber of commerce or a state
or national bankers’ association).
2. A private meeting with members of
the public—such as bankers, community
representatives, industry representatives, or
labor representatives—to collect information about current economic and financial
conditions, without disseminating any information that is not widely available to the
public. Whenever practical, at least two
Federal Reserve staff should be present at
such a meeting.
In contrast, the following contacts would
not be consistent with the principles set out
1. Disclosure of confidential FOMC information.
2. Disclosure or characterization of the
views expressed at an FOMC meeting.
3. Disclosure of an FOMC participant’s
personal views on monetary policy that
have not previously been communicated to
the public.
4. Public communications in which a
Federal Reserve officer expresses personal
opinions about prospective monetary policy
5. A prediction to members of the public
about Committee action prior to the Committee’s announcement of such decisions.
6. 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. Moreover, whenever
staff are unsure about whether specific con-

To assist Federal Reserve System staff in
understanding the application of these principles, the FOMC has considered how the
principles should be applied to some common
requests for public contact. For example, the


FOMC Policy on External Communications of Federal Reserve System Staff
tacts with the public would be appropriate,
they should consult in advance with the appropriate staff person or with the head of their
respective institution—namely, the Chairman

in the case of staff at the Board of Governors,
and the President in the case of staff at a Federal Reserve Bank.