Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Frank Lucas, R-Okla., have sent a letter to White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director, Arati Prabhakar, requesting details on how OSTP plans to implement new guidance that directs Federal agencies to make Federally-funded research publicly accessible.
On Aug. 25, OSTP released a memo asking heads of executive departments and agencies to update their public access policies by Dec. 31, 2025, to make publications and their supporting data resulting from Federally-funded research publicly accessible without an embargo on their free and public release.
In their Oct. 18 letter, Reps. Johnson and Lucas – the chairwoman and ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee – supported OSTP’s intention to improve access to taxpayer-funded research and greater transparency of research data. They said the new policy, if properly implemented, would further the goal of enabling transformative scientific discovery across disciplines.
But, the members of Congress said, OSTP’s policy memo lacks guidance and details about how policies will be developed and implemented.
“It is the responsibility of the Federal government not just to ensure that taxpayer-funded research is made publicly available (with appropriate protections for privacy and confidentiality), but that it is done in a way that avoids unintended consequences and maximizes the scientific benefits,” the letter says.
In addition, the lawmakers expressed concerns over the lack of detail or guidance on digital data requirements, noting that data accessibility is often “a more difficult technical, cultural, and economic challenge than making publications available,” they wrote.
“The data challenge has always been much harder than the publications challenge,” they said. “It requires new funds, not just new ways of providing funds. The significant differences in culture and needs across disciplines, institutions, and agencies add another layer of complexity to implementation.”
The lawmakers urged OSTP to conduct public workshops with stakeholders to address these critical implementation issues in the next few months, especially before agencies submit their implementation plans for the new policy – as directed by the memo.
“The [memo] directs Federal science agencies with over $100 million in spending to send their implementation plans back to OSTP in less than five months. A robust dialogue in advance of that deadline would be advantageous to all parties,” the letter concludes.