For Immediate Release Contact: Ranit Schmelzer
March 18, 2015 202-538-1065
“FASTR” Legislation Would Ensure Permanency of Public Access to Scientific Research
Necessary Next Step to White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Directive
Washington, DC – SPARC, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication, today applauded the reintroduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, which would ensure that public access to research articles becomes the law of the land.
FASTR calls for federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million to establish consistent, permanent public access policies for articles reporting on their funded research. This means that articles reporting on the results of taxpayer-funded research would be made available to the general public to freely access and fully use. FASTR would codify the February 22, 2013 White House Directive to provide greater public access to taxpayer-funded research.
“The introduction of the FASTR Act shows that open access continues to be a strong bipartisan issue in both the House and Senate—a rare feat these days,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). “The Administration took a giant step forward in issuing an Executive Directive on public access in 2013. Although the agencies have started to release their plans, it is crucial that we make open access to taxpayer-funded research the law of the land.”
FASTR was introduced today in the House and Senate with five original bipartisan cosponsors, including Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA-14), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), and Kevin Yoder (R-KS-3). It comes during Sunshine Week, a national initiative designed to spotlight the importance of government transparency, and freedom of information.
The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act of 2015:
- Represents the next step forward in the competitiveness agenda, spurring both innovation and job creation in broad sectors of the economy, from agriculture and energy to publishing.
- Improves transparency and accountability in government spending.
- Expands access to taxpayer-funded information while protecting classified research, royalty generating works, and preliminary data.
Every year, the federal government funds tens of billions of dollars in basic and applied research. Most of this funding is concentrated within 11 departments/agencies (e.g. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy) and the research results in a significant number of articles being published each year – approximately 100,000 papers are published annually as a result of NIH funding alone. Because U.S. taxpayers directly fund this research, they have a right to expect that its distribution and use will be maximized, and that they themselves will have access to it.
The government funds research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries resulting from that research will advance science, stimulate innovation, grow the economy, and improve the lives and welfare of Americans. The Internet makes it possible to advance these goals by providing public online access to federally funded research, and has revolutionized information sharing by enabling prompt sharing of the latest advances with every scientist, physician, educator, entrepreneur and citizen.
One of the critical challenges faced by industry today is gaining quick access to research for commercial application, to spur investment in development of new innovative products. Businesses – small and large – need faster access to this information to be competitive in the global marketplace.
In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Directive, that requires the results of taxpayer-funded research – both articles and data – be made freely available to the general public with the goal of accelerating scientific discovery and fueling innovation. To date, eight agencies and departments have released their initial plans, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, and NASA. However, as is always the case, the OSTP Directive can be overturned by a subsequent Administration.
“We can’t simply hope that future Administrations will endorse public access in the same way the Obama Administration has,” Joseph said. “Passing FASTR will ensure a stable path for greater innovation and economic and job growth by opening up access to publicly funded research – once and for all.”
FASTR was first introduced in the 113th Congress. You can learn more about this legislation by visiting SPARC’s FASTR homepage.
You can contact your Congressional representatives to express your support for FASTR through the SPARC Legislative Action Center.
SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. Developed by the Association of Research Libraries, SPARC has become a catalyst for change. Its pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communication models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries. More information can be found at www.sparcopen.org and on Twitter @SPARC_NA.