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Road blocks to federally funded research

H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act (FIRST) was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and to the Committee on Small Business. The ALA stands with SPARC in opposing Section 303 of this bill; a provision that would create unnecessary obstacles to the public’s ability to access research funded by tax-payers.

Now is not the time to create unwarranted challenges to the access of tax-payer funded research. After years of effort, the open access community celebrated the White House Directive on Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research and the addition to the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations Act to expand the National Institutes of Health’s access program to include the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. These programs would more rapidly make the results of this research available to the public; while Section 303 would create challenges to federal agencies as they endeavor to participate.

Among other things, Section 303 would:

  • Establish a minimum allowed embargo period of 24 months, and allow its further
    extension to 36 months. No provisions to reduce embargo periods are included in this legislation.
  • Sanction simply linking to full text of articles on publishers websites, without ensuring that federal agencies retain a copy of the text of the articles reporting on their funded research.
  • Require federal agencies to repeat the work that they have already done in drafting plans for policies as required by the White House Directive on public access, and introduce an additional 18 month minimum delay while this work is duplicated.

Please take a moment to contact your Representative to express your dismay of a bill that would delay the public’s right to information.

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Jessica McGilvray

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

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