Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

White House response to proposed OA mandate at NIH

This morning the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the Senate appropriations bill containing the provision to mandate OA at the NIH.  Excerpt:

The Administration strongly opposes S. 1710 because, in combination with the other FY 2008 appropriations bills, it includes an irresponsible and excessive level of spending and includes other objectionable provisions....

S. 1710 exceeds the President’s request for programs funded in this bill by nearly $9 billion, part of the $22 billion increase above the President’s request for FY 2008 appropriations. The Administration has asked that Congress demonstrate a path to live within the President’s topline and cover the excess spending in this bill through reductions elsewhere, while ensuring the Department of Defense has the resources necessary to accomplish its mission. Because Congress has failed to demonstrate such a path, if S. 1710 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.

The Administration strongly opposes provisions in this bill that overturn the President’s policy regarding human embryonic stem cell research....

Public Access to Research Information. Provisions in the bill would require that manuscripts based on NIH-funded research be made available to the public within 12 months of publication. The Administration notes that NIH’s current policy requesting the voluntary submission of manuscripts has only been in effect for 2 years, and the Administration believes there is opportunity to work with Congress to study the current policy and consider ways to encourage better participation. The Administration believes that any policy should balance the benefit of public access to taxpayer supported research against the possible impact that grant conditions could have on scientific research publishing, scientific peer review and on the United States’ longstanding leadership in upholding strong standards of protection for intellectual property....

The Administration strongly opposes...the elimination of the longstanding definition of abstinence education that keeps these programs focused solely on abstinence....


  • The bill is on the Senate floor for a vote as I write.  The President's SAP is a last-ditch effort to influence the vote.
  • Two things matter for OA:  First, if the Senate passes the bill, the President will veto it.  Second, the OA mandate at the NIH will not be one of the reasons for the veto.
  • I included some other parts of the SAP in order to show that the President strongly opposes many parts of the bill, including its total fiscal cost, but does not strongly oppose the OA provision.  The paragraph on the NIH policy picks nits but does not use the strong language used elsewhere in the SAP to express opposition.
  • I believe this is the first time that any OA policy has appeared in a Presidential SAP.  Until now, the issue has generated debate in Congress but largely with the indifference of the White House.  The change is entirely due to the publishing lobby, which has taken its case to the executive branch.
  • For background on the bill now before the Senate, including President Bush's threatened veto, see my article in the August issue of SOAN.
  • I'll have more to say about the SAP and post-veto strategies in the November issue of SOAN.