We Asked and the White House Responded!

we the people bannerOn Friday, February 22, the White House directed Federal agencies with more than $100 million in research and development spending to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication. This is in addition to the recently introduced Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR). President Steven Bell commented in an article by Library Journal saying, “Wow. This is big, profoundly historic and incredibly exciting. ACRL members, along with our partners in the academic community, have worked long and hard to advocate for expanded public access among federal agencies other than NIH. We celebrate the White House Directive that will make it happen now.”

He continued, “We must still strongly advocate for the passage of FASTR. Though it will take more time and present a greater struggle, the academic community needs a lasting legislative resolution for expanded public access to federally funded research. For today, we are extremely gratified by the Obama administration’s action.”

For more on what this directive means and its relationship to the recently introduced legislation, the following post from the ALA Washington Office blog, District Dispatch (written by Jessica McGilvray, Assistant Director in the Office of Government Relations) provides full details:

On Friday afternoon, John Holdren, director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. The memo, Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research (pdf), is the Obama Administrations response to last year’s We the People petition that asked for a requirement for scholars and researchers to provide “free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research.”

This memo comes at an opportune time, as two weeks ago the bicameral, bipartisan Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was introduced in the house and senate. There are many similarities between Friday’s memo and FASTR; however it is important to understand that the open access fight is not over! While the memo became policy the day the White House released it, the next president could overturn the policy on his / her first day in office. We must continue to work with congress to make FASTR into law.

This memo demonstrates that the Obama administration has a good grasp on the needs of the public, going beyond what FASTR would mandate to include data as well as published research. The memo states that “to achieve the Administration’s commitment to increase access to federally funded, published research and digital scientific data, Federal agencies investing in research and development must have clear and coordinated policies for increasing such access.” Unlike with FASTR, these new polices must be completed within 6 months.

For a further comparison on FASTR and Friday’s OSTP memo, check out this insightful piece by Peter Suber of the Harvard Open Access Project and SPARC.

Please take a moment to reach out to your congressional representatives to ask for their support on FASTR — request that they become a cosponsor on the bill! The ALA Legislative Action Center is ready and waiting on your visit!