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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

NASA rolls out PubSpace, public portal for NASA-funded research

The 2013 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research,” is really starting to bare fruit. NASA just announced the creation of PubSpace — which will go hand in hand with the NASA Data Portal — to provide a public access portal to NASA-funded research AND the underlying data.

There are 2 things to note: 1) NASA is using PubMedCentral (PMC) as its repository, along with other federal agencies like National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST), and the Veterans Administration (VA); and 2) as the NASA press release notes, there will be a deficit embargo period placed on NASA funded publications as researchers will have 1 year to deposit articles and data into PubSpace.

This is a very good step in the right Open Access direction for free access to federally funded research and data!

Public access to NASA-funded research data now is just a click away, with the launch of a new agency public access portal. The creation of the NASA-Funded Research Results portal on NASA.gov reflects the agency’s ongoing commitment to providing broad public access to science data.

“At NASA, we are celebrating this opportunity to extend access to our extensive portfolio of scientific and technical publications,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air and space.”

NASA now requires articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and papers in juried conference proceedings be publicly accessible via the agency’s PubSpace.

PubSpace is an archive of original science journal articles produced by NASA-funded research and available online without a fee. The data will be available for download, reading and analysis within one year of publication.

via NASA Unveils New Public Web Portal for Research Results | NASA.

FGI presents at FAFLRT panel on open government at ALA Annual ’15

faflrt15-presentationI was honored to be part of a program at American Library Association‘s 2015 annual conference (hosted in my home town of SF!) set up by the Federal & Armed Forces Libraries Round Table (FAFLRT). The program, “Open Government: Current Trends and Practices Concerning FOIA, Open Access, and Other Post-Wiki-Leaks Issues” featured Anneliese Taylor, Assistant Director of Scholarly Communications & Collections at UCSF, who gave an in-depth and very interesting presentation on open access and the OSTP directive on “Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research”. Thanks to Anneliese, I *finally* found a list of all of the agencies covered under the policy on one handy google spreadsheet “A table summarizing the Federal public access policies resulting from the US Office of Science and Technology Policy memorandum of February 2013”! [UPDATE August 17, 2015: The recorded presentation is now available from ALA!]

My talk was titled “Blind Spots and Broken Links: Access to Government Information.” Unfortunately, the speaker for the FOIA portion had to cancel at the last minute, so I edited my original talk on access trends — and breakdown points — to federal publications to include a bit on FOIA. I really didn’t do FOIA the justice it deserved, but I think the panel turned out well because we had plenty of time for questions and discussion. Please see the slides and notes for my presentation below. There’s also a PDF available of both the slides and notes.

OSTP releases new directive to improve the management of and access to scientific collections

Today, the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a directive to federal agencies that own or support scientific collections calling for improved management and access to these collections. Here’s the directive text (PDF).

Scientific collections are assemblies of physical objects that are valuable for research and education—including drilling cores from the ocean floor and glaciers, seeds, space rocks, cells, mineral samples, fossils, and more. Federal agencies develop and maintain scientific collections as records of our past and investments in our future.

These collections are public assets. They play an important role in promoting public health and safety, homeland security, trade, and economic development, medical research, resource management, education, and environmental monitoring.

They are studied across diverse fields of research and are used and re-used to validate and extend past research results as new analytical techniques develop. For the American public, students, and teachers, they are also treasure troves of information ripe for exploration and learning.

And there is no better time to highlight this important new policy than Sunshine Week – an annual celebration of transparency and public participation in government.

The memorandum released today fulfills the requirements of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 that called on OSTP to develop “policies for the management and use of Federal scientific collections to improve the quality, organization, access, including online access, and long-term preservation of such collections for the benefit of the scientific enterprise.”

A short quote from the directive that provides some sense of the scope:

Therefore, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hereby directs each Federal agency that owns, maintains, or otherwise financially supports permanent scientific collections to develop a draft scientific-collections management and access policy within six months. Agencies should collaborate through the IWGSC [the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections] while developing these draft policies to reduce redundancy and identify opportunities for common requirements and standards. The end goal will be a systematic improvement of the development, management, accessibility, and preservation of scientific collections owned and/or funded by Federal agencies.

The requirements below are intended to apply to institutional scientific collections owned, maintained, or financially supported by the U.S. Government. This policy applies to scientific collections, known in some disciplines as institutional collections, permanent collections, archival collections, museum collections, or voucher collections, which are assets with long-term scientific value. Materials assembled specifically for short-term use, sometimes referred to as “project collections”, and not intended for long-term preservation, do not fall under this policy, but such collections should be reviewed periodically and carefully to ensure that they should not be considered institutional collections.

via Fossils, Seeds, and Space Rocks: Improving the Management of and Access to the Nation’s Scientific Collections | The White House.

Report on Wasteful Spending by the Federal Government speciously targets NTIS

I was over at Sabrina Pacifici’s ever-informative bespacific.com blog (subscribe, you’ll be glad you did!) to read about e-govt and public access  during the last government shutdown and happened to see another post about Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OKLA)  latest “Report on Wasteful Spending by the Federal Government.” While I haven’t read the “report” in its entirety, I zoomed in on page 16, the section about the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) (“Let Me Google That for You: National Technical Information Service – (Department of Commerce) $50 million”), which quickly got my ire up.
That section is so specious and misleading. Senator Coburn cites the 2012 GAO Report “Information Management: National Technical Information Service’s Dissemination of Technical Reports Needs Congressional Attention” (Rep. no. GAO-13-99) to basically argue that NTIS is wasting $50 million because many of the reports in the NTIS database are available online elsewhere, but NTIS is charging federal agencies (he doesn’t say anything about the public!) to access those reports. But he fundamentally misunderstands the Internet and misrepresents the case by stating that “elsewhere” to him is google and usa.gov, *internet search engines*! Doesn’t he realize that Google and USA.gov are simply pointing to NTIS, so if NTIS goes away, the reports that his staff found there will go away too.
While I think the GAO report on NTIS is of interest — and wrote about it at the time, noting that GAO concluded that NTIS is offering a valuable service — I’m flabbergasted that Coburn took away from the GAO report that NTIS is a big waste of $$.
  1. The internet doesn’t just happen! Does he think that gas magically appears in his car’s gas tank?!
  2. It’s obvious that NTIS reports are critical as agencies are paying “millions of dollars” for the NTIS service.
  3. NTIS operates on a cost-recovery basis because CONGRESS created it that way.

Rather than “wasting $$” by having NTIS charge agencies and the public for reports (some of which are in copyright!!), why doesn’t Congress *fund* NTIS so that they can serve agencies AND the public for free?!  Why doesn’t the Obama administration add NTIS to the OSTP directive on public access to federally funded research? The directive applies to agencies with over $100 million in R&D expenditures so it’d be easy to simply add NTIS, OSTI and other .gov information providers to the directive.

OSTP wants your comments on Open Access to Federally Funded Research

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is requesting input regarding enhanced access to federally funded science and technology research results, including the possibility of open access to them. Comments can be e-mailed to publicaccess@ostp.gov. The deadline for comments is January 7, 2010. For more, see the Federal Register announcement:

Federal Register: December 9, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 235) Page 65173-65175

On his first day in office, the President issued a Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government that called for an “unprecedented level of openness in government” and the rapid disclosure of one of our nation’s great assets–information. Moreover, the Administration is dedicated to maximizing the return on Federal investments made in R&D. Consistent with this policy, the Administration is exploring ways to leverage Federal investments to increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness. The results of government-funded research can take many forms, including data sets, technical reports, and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, among others. This RFI focuses on approaches that would enhance the public’s access to scholarly publications resulting from research conducted by employees of a Federal agency or from research funded by a Federal agency.

[Thanks to Charles Bailey for originally posting to DIGLIB list!]

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