Momentum for increased access to the results of scientific research, particularly research funded with taxpayer dollars, caught the attention of some members of Congress this year. In February, Rep. Michael F. Doyle (D-Pa.) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2012 (H.R. 4004), a bill that would require all federal agencies that annually fund $100 million or more in scientific research to adopt a public-access policy. The National Institutes of Health is currently the only U.S. federal agency that has adopted such a policy.
The Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight within the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space & Technology debated the pros and cons of open access during a hearing in late March, but no further action on H.R. 4004 was taken.
In late June, 13 members of Congress wrote a letter to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy urging the office to act quickly to make federally funded research more accessible. Public-access policies can help improve the value of academic research and boost U.S. economic competitiveness, the lawmakers argued.
Earlier this year, Reps. Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) decided not to pursue action on their controversial bill, the Research Works Act (H.R. 3699). The bill would have required federal agencies to obtain consent from private-sector publishers prior to disseminating research articles. Open-access advocates opposed the bill because it would have rolled back NIH’s public-access policy and prohibited other federal agencies from adopting similar policies.