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Congress passes an Omnibus Spending Bill for FY 2014

This week, both the U.S. House and Senate approved legislation that would fund the federal government through Fiscal Year 2014.  This legislation partially restores funding to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) that were dramatically cut in FY 2013 under sequestration.

The total amount appropriated for LSTA increased from $175,044,000 in FY 2013, to $180,909,000 for FY 2014. The grants to states programs increased from $150 million to $154,848,000; National Leadership grants increased from $11,377,000 to $12,200,000; Laura Bush 21st-century Librarian grants remained at $10 million and the Native American and Hawaiian Library Services increased from $3,667,000 to $3,861,000.

In the Department of Education, Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL), a completive grant which half of the funds must go to low income school libraries, was appropriated at $25 million in FY 2014.  This is a -$2.4 million cut from FY 2013.

Furthermore, this recently passed bill has made important progress in allowing tax-payer funded scientific research to be freely accessible in a digital environment.  The federal agencies under the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education portion of this bill with research budgets of $100 million or more will be required to provide online access of articles that report on federally funded research.  The agencies will have no more than 12 months after the articles publication in a peer-reviewed journal to make them publicly accessible.

With the additional agencies, a little more than half of the annual U.S. investment in taxpayer-funded research, $31 of the annual $60 billion will be accessible.

In addition to the language in the bill, report language was included, urging agencies to continue to move forward on the White House Directive policies.

The bill’s language follows in the footsteps of the landmark NIH Public Access Policy and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Directive on Public Access.

The ALA is very appreciative to the White House, Senator Harkin, Senator Cornyn and all who fought for this to be included.  Without their efforts, we would not be where we are today.

While we celebrate this milestone in open access, we are also aware that we have not gone far enough.  The additional provisions found in the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act would make this effort complete.

President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law on Friday or Saturday.

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Jeffrey Kratz

Jeffrey Kratz is a former member of the Washington Office government relations team.

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