How PEER Works

Membership Has Its Privileges
Being a member of PEER means more than just receiving our newsletter. The thousands of scientists, peace officers, land managers, and other professionals who make up PEER’s membership are considered “peers,” and collectively they represent a powerful voice for ethical resource management and impartial implementation of environmental laws.

Being a “peer” means being a government employee who is working to change his or her agency for the better, to reform it and to make it more accountable to the public. Using PEER as a vehicle, employees can safely and effectively become anonymous activists for environmental protection.

Private citizens are also encouraged to support the organization’s environmental protection efforts, and we receive thousands of contributions from individuals who know that we all benefit when public agencies work as they should in the clear light of day, out from behind closed doors.

PEER’s job is to serve public employees. Our clients are those in trouble, those who are fed up with agency abuses and those who see a better way to protect our environment.

So what does a public employee get for joining and becoming a “peer?”

Every “peer” can count on legal counseling from attorneys specializing in whistleblower protections, First Amendment rights, and civil service laws ... at no cost. PEER attorneys do not charge for their services.

In addition to defending employees, PEER lawyers go on the offense – suing agencies to correct the illegal actions (or inactions) that are harming public resources. As a service organization, all PEER actions are based on requests from public employees. Public servants frame the target and point us at it.

By joining PEER, a portion of your contribution goes to fund PEER’s Legal Defense Fund, ensuring that ethical public employees get the support they need. Besides helping embattled colleagues, you should consider membership as a sort of legal insurance which will be there if (God forbid) you ever need PEER’s services in the future.

At absolutely no cost, a “peer” can use the organization to address issues inside his or her agency through official channels and in the light of day -- while remaining safely anonymous, of course. PEER firmly believes that our employee members are the brains and we’re just the stationery.

In other words, as a “peer” you can work in partnership with the organization, using PEER letterhead. That means PEER can prepare and enter document requests, permit protests and other administrative filings that keep the agency honest.

PEER is ready and willing to come to the aid of employees in need. With PEER’s guidance, resources and strategic support, “peers” benefit by participating in a full-fledged campaign that can focus on a particular issue, incident or agency. The purpose of a PEER campaign is to help employees document and expose wrongdoing by public agencies.

A “peer” is eligible for free media training and assistance. Staff members are on hand to help you use our press lists, compose press releases and set up press conferences and other events. PEER members also have access to our publishing house, which we call the “vanity press.” In short, if you draft a white paper or other report, PEER edits it, prints it, distributes it and acts as “press agent” for the project.

Another very effective means to alert the public to problems plaguing an agency is to have PEER conduct a confidential survey of employees. This involves having interested employees actually write the questions. PEER provides postage and distributes the questionnaire to all staff. Because responses are anonymous, employees can answer truthfully without fear of reprisal.

Free campaign planning is another benefit to becoming a “peer.” Bring PEER to your state or office for “brown bag” presentations, private meetings, conferences, and so on. PEER can also set up conference calls for employees to “meet” over the phone when it is difficult or impossible to safely gather outside of the office.

In addition to all of these services, members can use PEER’s web page to post information about their agency, display forbidden documents or network with allies. The potential for activity is limited only by your energy, creativity and imagination.

Being a “peer” means making a difference. If you are reading this and are not a member please join. If you are a member, please sign up a colleague. And let’s start working for a better tomorrow inside your agency.