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Open access to US federally funded research not in place as directed, report says

Some federal agencies are lagging on ensuring information is put into repositories and made accessible to the public

by Andrea Widener
November 26, 2019

US agencies have not fully implemented a plan to give the public free access to federally funded research, according to a new report from the US Government Accountability Office, the research branch of Congress.

In 2013, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directed all agencies that annually fund over $100 million in research to develop a plan to make the resulting publications and data freely available to the public.

All 19 agencies the GAO questioned for the report have identified repositories where that information can be deposited by researchers. But 11 have no way to ensure that scientists are actually putting information into those repositories, the GAO found. In addition, 4 haven’t required that all researchers create a data management plan for how to preserve and share their data. And 7 are lagging on making information easily accessible by the public, such as by creating a single point of access on the internet.

The OSTP is leading an interagency group to examine agencies’ public access plans, the GAO says, but it hasn’t yet decided what outcomes are required. The GAO issued 37 recommendations for improvement to 16 agencies to help them address these issues.

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