--------------------------------------------------- Second shoe drops: new White House Directive mandates OA
The Obama White House today directed federal agencies to develop
open-access policies within the next six months. The directive comes
from John Holdren, President Obama's chief Science Advisor. (See
previous facebook post for links to directive.)
This is big. It's big in its own right, and even bigger when put together with FASTR <http://bit.ly/hoap-fastr>,
the bipartisan OA bill introduced into both houses of Congress just
eight days ago. We now have OA mandates coming from both the executive
and legislative branches of government.
The two approaches
complement one another. FASTR does not make the White House directive
unnecessary. FASTR may never be adopted. And if it is adopted, it will
be after some time for study, education, lobbying, amendment,
negotiation, and debate. By contrast, the White House directive takes
effect today. The wheels are already turning. Compared to this executive
action, FASTR is slower. (Thanks to Becky Cremona for this good line.)
Similarly, the White House directive does not make FASTR unnecessary.
On the contrary, we need legislation to codify federal OA policies. The
next president could rescind today's White House directive, but could
not rescind legislation. (One lesson: Don't let up on efforts to
persuade Congress to pass FASTR.)
The White House directive and
FASTR pull in the same general direction, but they are not identical.
Here are the key points of similarity and difference:
ask a wide range of federal funding agencies to require OA for the
results of the research they fund. But the new directive applies to more
agencies. FASTR covers all the agencies spending at least $100
million/year funding extramural research. The directive covers all the
agencies spending at least $100 million/year funding extramural research
or development. FASTR applies to about 11 agencies and the directive to
about 19. Among the agencies omitted by FASTR but covered by the
directive are USAid and the Smithsonian Institution.
* Both put
a limit on permissible embargoes, but the directive allows longer
embargoes. FASTR caps embargos at six months, and the directive caps
them at 12 months. Under the directive, agencies may ask White House
permission to allow even longer embargoes, but they must submit data to
support their requests.
* Both ask agencies to develop their
own policies within certain guidelines. FASTER gives them a year to do
so (starting when FASTR is adopted) and the directive gives them half a
year to do so (starting today).
If FASTR is eventually adopted,
then all the FASTR-covered agencies will already have OA policies under
today's directive. Some agencies may have to revise their policies to
comply with FASTR guidelines, for example, reducing permissible
embargoes to a maximum of six months or tweaking their libre or
* FASTR is silent on data, but the White House directive requires OA for articles (Section 3) and OA for data (Section 4).
* Both FASTR and the directive are solid green mandates, requiring
deposit in an OA repository (green OA) and remaining silent about
publishing in OA journals (gold OA). In that sense, both initiatives
build on the successful green OA mandate at the NIH, and reject the
gold-favoring approach adopted by the Research Councils UK.
Both FASTR and the directive require agency policies to permit libre OA
or to license repository deposits for reuse. They use different language
to describe the desired type of freedom, and do not specify individual
The White House was also pressured by a May 2012 "We the people"
petition that only needed 25k signatures in the first 30 days to elicit
an official response. It received that many in 14 days, and today has
65,700+ signatures. While we reached the response threshold eight months
ago, I think it's fair to say that today's response is what we were
waiting for. http://wh.gov/6TH
This is another in a series of blog posts on FASTR and other federal
actions to support OA to federally-funded research. I'll pull the series
of posts together for an article in the March issue of the SPARC Open