White House Updates Open Access Policy

Yesterday I saw a tongue-in-cheek petition asking for the White House to intervene in a debate over a proposed new University of Kansas men's basketball team uniform. The petition called the uniforms “stylistically heinous” and said they “tarnish a venerated institution.” The petition asked the White House to “Stand up for our university, for coherent color schemes, and for the spirit of Wilt Chamberlain.”

The petition has been removed from the We the People site for violating the Terms of Service, which I'd argue was a good call by the site moderators (even if I did get a laugh out of the petition).

Not all petitions submitted to the We the People site see similar fates. In fact, on February 22, 2013 the Obama Administration announced a new open access policy for scientific research supported with tax payer dollars. The announcement said, “The Obama Administration is committed to the proposition that citizens deserve easy access to the results of scientific research their tax dollars have paid for. That's why, in a policy memorandum released today, OSTP Director John Holdren has directed Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.”

The White House's open access policy change is a direct result of a successful We the People petition. The February 22 announcement explains, “The final policy reflects substantial inputs from scientists and scientific organizations, publishers, members of Congress, and other members of the public—over 65 thousand of whom recently signed a We the People petition asking for expanded public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research.

“I am thrilled to see the White House taking a position on Open Access,” says Margo Seltzer, USENIX Board President. She adds, “I belong to two organizations that have made strong commitments to Open Access for several years—Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences has had an open access policy since 2008 and USENIX has been open access for decades, and moved to a fully open access policy about five years ago. The White House position is just the beginning. In my opinion, research needs to be open immediately, not just after one year, but we are moving in the right direction and I am proud to belong to organizations who have been leading the way.”

USENIX has long supported open access to research. USENIX authors retain their copyright and USENIX proceedings have been freely available since 2008. USENIX members directly support open access to research through their membership dues. Visit our membership page to learn about other USENIX membership benefits and join us in supporting open access to research: https://www.usenix.org/membership-services