Does the Obama Administration believe in the power of the Internet to maximize the value of public investments in scientific research? We will soon find out. Each year, the government spends about $60 billion on basic scientific research. About half of this money goes to the National Institutes of Health, which has an Internet-friendly Public Access Policy that requires all grantees to provide a copy of journal articles and other published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted online within one year after publication. This policy has bipartisan support and has been an unqualified success. So, why not require the other agencies that fund basic research, like the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Energy, to do the same?
The White House is in the process of deciding how to answer this question. Specifically, the Office of Science and Technology Policy asked for public comment on the issue of open access to science journal articles and scientific research data arising from all federally-funded research – twice.