Washington Update

OSTP Host Community Forum on Public Access Guidance

By: Yvette Seger
Thursday, November 10, 2022
In August, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum to heads of executive departments and agencies regarding policies to ensure free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research. Recognizing that the memorandum elicited many questions from a variety of stakeholders in the research community, OSTP hosted a brief community forum on November 7 to review key provisions and spotlight approaches underway at three agencies.

In her opening remarks, Alondra Nelson, PhD, Deputy Director for Science and Society at OSTP, noted that the August memorandum reflects the administration’s commitment to open government and open scholarship, particularly for research supported by federal funds. The memo is intended to build upon agencies’ work towards the 2013 OSTP memorandum, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research,” while eliminating the key barrier to public access – the 12-month post-publication embargo.

Christopher Marcum, PhD, Assistant Director for Open Science and Data Policy at OSTP, provided an overview of the key provisions of the latest memo and the timeline for implementation. He also highlighted what the new policy guidance is not, including a mandate for open access or any other business model.

Representatives from three federal agencies—National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—presented highlights of their efforts in support of the August 2022 memo. For NASA, open science is a core value, and several internal policy directives supporting such efforts have been in place for several years. In fact, internal review indicated that the majority of existing NASA policies are already compliant with the OSTP memo. NIH anticipates aligning updates to the public access policy to the agency’s policy on data management and sharing. IMLS is equally committed to public access to research, and applicants are expected to address preservation and access to digital content in proposals.

Proposed revisions to existing agency public access plans are due in late February 2023 for agencies with more than $100 million in research funding and August 2023 for agencies with less than $100 million. In their remarks, NIH noted this update process would include active stakeholder engagement to better understand opportunities and challenges associated with fulfilling the OSTP memo.