Recent Developments on the Public Access Front

By Elizabeth Holland

Public access to government information is one of AALL’s core policy priorities and we’re happy to report on some recent progress in this area.

In late March, a bipartisan coalition of Representatives and Senators re-introduced the Fair Access to Science & Technology Research (FASTR) Act (H.R. 1477/S.779). FASTR would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million and above to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research. A coalition of 17 national and regional library, publishing, funding, research and advocacy organizations, including AALL, sent a letter to the House and Senate sponsors yesterday, thanking them for their introduction of this important legislation.

FASTR was first introduced in 2013 and shortly after, the White House released a directive  requiring the results of research funded by major federal government entities to be made freely available to the public. H.R. 1477 and S.779 would strengthen and codify that directive by shortening the embargo period from research publication to public access from 12 months to six.

The 2013 directive also required that agencies and departments release plans for ensuring public access to articles and data resulting from taxpayer-funded research. Most recently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their plans. SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, provides useful analysis of agency plans on their blog.

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