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Ted Agre, Panel faults U.S. science policy, The Scientist, June 6, 2006. Excerpt:
Here's the key passage from the NSB letter to Sen. McCain (May 10, 2006):
Overall conclusion. Upon review as per your request, the Board finds that there exists no consistent Federal policy regarding the dissemination of research results by Federal employees. An overarching set of principles for the communication of scientific information by Government scientists, policy makers, and managers should be developed and issued by the Administration to serve as the umbrella under which each agency would develop its specific policies and procedures. The Board believes a need exists for all Federal agencies that conduct research to establish policies and procedures to encourage open exchange of data and results of research conducted by agency scientists, while preventing the intentional or unintentional suppression or distortion of research findings and accommodating appropriate agency review. A clear distinction should be made between communicating professional research results and data versus the interpretation of data and results in a context that seeks to influence, through the injection of personal viewpoints, public opinion or the formulation of public policy. Delay in taking these actions may contribute to a potential loss of confidence by the American public and broader research community regarding the quality and credibility of Government sponsored scientific research results.
Here's the key passage of McCain's amendment to the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2006 (S 2802):
[Section 104.a] Within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, shall develop and issue an overarching set of principles for the communication of scientific information by government scientists, policy makers, and managers to the public. The principles shall encourage the open exchange of data and results of research by Federal agency scientists....[Section 104.b] The Director shall ensure that all civilian Federal agencies that conduct scientific research develop specific policies and procedures regarding the public release of scientific information consistent with the principles established under subsection (a) within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act. These agency-specific policies shall be uniformly applied across the agency, widely communicated, and readily accessible to all employees and the public. They shall specifically address what is and what is not permitted or recommended.
Comment. The openness at issue here is not open access. It's the freedom of government-employed scientists to report the results of their research without interference from uneducated political appointees with a contrary religious or political agenda. But open access could be part of the solution sought by the NSB and Sen. McCain. The FRPAA would make an excellent foundation for a "consistent Federal policy regarding the dissemination of research results by Federal employees."
Update. Also see Andrew Revkin's story on this in the June 8 New York Times.