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White House Calls for Wider Free Access to Federally-funded Scientific Research

The Obama White House has made a strong statement on the issue of free access to taxpayer-funded scientific research.

In a policy memorandum released on February 22, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in research and development expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally-funded scientific research.

The OSTP has been looking into this issue for some time, soliciting broad public input on multiple occasions and convening an interagency working group to develop a policy. The final policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public.

Over 65 thousand citizens signed a We the People petition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.

Last week’s response to the public petition reads, in part:

    The logic behind enhanced public access is plain. We know that scientific research supported by the Federal Government spurs scientific breakthroughs and economic advances when research results are made available to innovators. Policies that mobilize these intellectual assets for re-use through broader access can accelerate scientific breakthroughs, increase innovation, and promote economic growth. That’s why the Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that the results of federally-funded scientific research are made available to and useful for the public, industry, and the scientific community.

    Moreover, this research was funded by taxpayer dollars. Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support.

The petition, OSTP response, and the memorandum to federal agencies are available on the White House website.

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