One person within another USDA agency told Quartz, ”the beachheads have landed, practically nothing is allowed for now.” Whether it’s a temporary chill or the regular order of business remains to be seen. At the moment, Trump’s pick for secretary of Agriculture, former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, has yet to be questioned or confirmed by the US Senate. Until then, some agencies within the department—including those with offices throughout the country—are under strict orders to keep quiet and refrain from speaking with the press unless approved by the office of communications in Washington, according to press reports and Quartz’s source.

Update (12:45 EST)

Per a copy of the three-page memo obtained by Quartz, USDA employees across all agencies have been told the changes are part of the official transition from Barack Obama’s administration. It essentially instructs all employees to keep quiet unless given expressed permission from, at minimum, the approval of the agency head, the Office of the General Counsel sub-cabinet office, and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis.

When working with members of the press, USDA employees have been told not to make policy-related statements without notifying and consulting with the office of the secretary. Employees have been told not to engage in on- or off-the-record conversations with journalists, either.

The memo outlines many areas (audit responses, ongoing litigation, advisory committees, contract awards, correspondence, and agreements with other federal agencies, among others) in which USDA staff are told to get explicit permission before going about their regular business, including speaking with members of Congress and their staff.

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