In a perplexing turn of events, Rep. Issa (R-CA) recently introduced the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699), on December 16, 2011. Co-sponsored by Rep. Maloney (D-NY), the bill would effectively turn back the clock on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access policy put into place in 2008. The bill was referred to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of which Rep. Issa is chairman.
If you recall, the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), (H.R. 5037), introduced in April 2010 in the 111th Congress, was modeled after the NIH Public Access policy. The ALA strongly supported FRPAA as it aimed to ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of federally funded (i.e. tax-payer funded) research by eleven U.S. federal agencies and departments. The bi-partisan supported bill mirrored a Senate version of FRPAA (S. 1373), and a brief history of these bills is available here.
The ALA has been a long-time, ardent supporter of increasing access to information of all types, including federally funded research. This latest bill, the Research Works Act, would act in direct contradiction and therefore the ALA vehemently opposes the bill.
The truly perplexing part is how Rep. Issa can fight the good fight against an egregious anti-piracy copyright bill (SOPA, H.R. 3261), and at the same time turn so abruptly and set his sights on nullifying the NIH Public Access policy. The ALA will be keeping close tabs on the Research Works Act bill and track whether there is even a hint at it gaining traction.