Today, the White House responded to the We The People e-petition on open access.
John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a memorandum directing agencies with “more than $100 million in research and development expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publically available free of charge within 12 months after original publication.”
As Hayley Tsukayama notes in the Washington Post, the White House acknowledged the open access policies of the National Institutes of Health as a successful model for sharing research.
Was this a policy change? An open question on Twitter received clear answers:
From the day they were announced, one of the biggest question marks about We The People e-petitions has always been whether the administration would make policy changes or take public stances it had not before on a given issue.
ThThe Obama administration has been considering access to federally funded scientific research for years, including a report to Congress in March 2012. The relevant e-petition, which had gathered more than 65,000 signatures had gone unanswered since May of last year.
While the memorandum and the potential outcomes from its release come with caveats, from that $100M threshold to national security or economic competitions, an answer from the director of the White House Office of Science Policy accompanied by a memorandum directing agencies to make changes is a substantive outcome.
While there are many reasons to be critical of some open government initiatives, it certainly appears that today, We The People were heard in the halls of government.