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We asked and the White House responded!

We the people

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 Legislative Action Center is ready and waiting on your visit!

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Jessica McGilvray

Jessica McGilvray is a former member of the Washington Office government relations team.

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