Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, June 25, 2009

FRPAA, public access mandate, re-introduced in U.S. Senate

Senator John Cornyn, Sens. Cornyn & Lieberman Team Up To Increase Public Access To Taxpayer Funded Research, press release, June 25, 2009.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Joe Lieberman, I-CT, introduced legislation today to expand the public's access to the research they help fund by shedding additional light on federal research projects. Their legislation, the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), would require every federal department and agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more to make their research available to the public within six months of publication.

"Our legislation would give the American people greater access to the important scientific research they help fund, which will accelerate scientific discovery and innovation, while also making sure that funding is being spent appropriately to ensure taxpayers are receiving a return on their research investments and they are not having to pay twice for the same research - once to conduct it, and a second time to read it. I will continue to advocate for greater transparency measures across all of our governmental departments and agencies, and I urge our Senate colleagues to support this legislation," said Sen. Cornyn.

"The United States has some of the best and brightest researchers," said Lieberman. "I continue to be impressed by their ideas and feel strongly that the American public should have access to what they discover. The internet makes it possible to provide public access to federally funded research and I am pleased to lead the effort to make this information more accessible." ...

Sens. Cornyn and Lieberman first introduced this legislation in the 109th Congress [Note: 2006]. ...

Specifically, the FRPAA would:

  • Require every researcher with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more, whether funded totally or partially by a government department or agency, to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation.
  • Require that each taxpayer-funded manuscript be made available to the public online and without cost, no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
See also the press release by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access:

... The proposed bill is welcomed by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a coalition of research institutions, consumers, patients, and others formed to support open public access to publicly funded research. ...

The bill gives individual agencies flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content, as long as the repositories meet conditions for interoperability and public accessibility, and have provisions for long-term archiving. ...

The bill covers unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation. ...

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access calls on organizations and individuals to write in support of the bill ...

Comment. This is big. FRPAA would open a massive amount of research, expanding the NIH policy to most agencies across the government. The six-month embargo is shorter than the NIH policy and closer to most other funder policies.

I can't find the bill number or text online yet, but we'll post it here on OAN when it's available.

The environment for FRPAA should be even more positive than during its first iteration. In addition to the growth of OA generally:

  • The U.S. now has the NIH mandate as an example policy; the success of its implementation should count in FRPAA's favor.
  • In 2006, FRPAA was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Lieberman was then the committee's ranking member, but he now chairs the committee, increasing his influence on the bill's fate.
  • The first FRPAA was introduced toward the end of the Congress, decreasing the likelihood that it could clear all the legislative hurdles required to become law before it died with the Congress. This time, it's a year earlier in the process, giving it a more meaningful chance of becoming law.
  • We can hope that President Obama's professed interests in advancing science and transparency will lead to his support for FRPAA. (Remember too that Obama was himself an academic.)

Importantly, the first iteration of FRPAA inspired a wave of support that drew many into the OA movement for the first (including myself). Look for renewed interest in OA around the U.S.

See also our past posts on FRPAA.

Update. For more coverage, see the items tagged oa.frpaa in the OA Tracking Project.