Alliance for Taxpayer Access

Senator Lieberman on FRPAA for the Congressional Record, June 26, 2009

By Mr. LIEBERMAN (for himself and Mr. Cornyn):

S. 1373. A bill to provide for Federal agencies to develop public
access policies relating to research conducted by employees of that
agency; or from funds administered by that agency to the Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Federal Research
Public Access Act. I am very pleased to be joined again by my good
friend and colleague, Senator Joe Lieberman, who has remained dedicated
to seeing this important legislation passed. This bipartisan bill is
the same legislation we introduced in the 109th Congress. The purpose
of this legislation is to ensure American taxpayers' dollars are spent
wisely, which is even more important now in this time of fiscal

To put things in perspective, the Federal Government spends upwards
of $55 billion on investments for basic and applied research every
year. There are approximately 11 departments/agencies that are the
recipients of these investments, including: the National Institutes of
Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Energy,
the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture. These
departments/agencies then distribute the taxpayers' money to fund
research which is typically conducted by outside researchers working
for universities, health care systems, and other groups.

While this research is undoubtedly necessary and is beneficial to
America, it remains the case that not all Americans are capable of
experiencing these benefits firsthand. Usually the results of the
researchers are published in academic journals. Despite the fact that
the research was paid for by Americans' tax dollars, most citizens are
unable to attain timely access to the wealth of information that the
research provides.

Some Federal agencies, most notably the NIH, have recognized this
lack of availability and have proceeded to take positive steps in the
right direction by requiring that those articles based on government-
funded research be easily accessible to the public in a timely manner.
I am proud to report that the NIH's public access policy has been a
success over the past few years. By the NIH implementing a
groundbreaking public access policy, there has been strong progress in
making the NIH's federally funded research available to the public, and
has helped to energize this debate.

Although this has surely been an encouraging and important step
forward, Senator Lieberman and I believe there is more that can and
must be done, as this is just a small part of the research funded by
the Federal Government.

With that in mind, Senator Lieberman and I find it necessary to
reintroduce the Federal Research Public Access Act that will build on
and refine the work done by the NIH and require that the Federal
Government's leading underwriters of research adopt meaningful public
access policies. Our legislation provides a simple and practical
solution to giving the public access to the research it funds.

Our bill will ask all Federal departments and agencies that invest
$100 million or more annually in research to develop a public access
policy. Our goal is to have the results of all government-funded
research to be disseminated and made available to the largest possible
audience. By speeding access to this research, we can help promote the
advancement of science, accelerate the pace of new discoveries and
innovations, and improve the lives and welfare of people at home and

Each policy that these departments and agencies develop will require
that articles resulting from federal funding must be presented in some
publicly accessible archive within six months of publication. In doing
so, the American taxpayers will have guaranteed access to the latest
research, ensuring that they do not have to pay for the same research
twice--first to conduct it and then again to view the results.

This simple legislation will provide our government with an
opportunity to better leverage our investment in research and in turn
ensure a greater return on that investment. All Americans stand to
benefit from this bill, including patients diagnosed with a disease who
will have the ability to use the Internet to read the latest articles
in their entirety concerning their prognosis, students who will be able
to find full abundant research as they further their education, or
researchers who will have their findings more broadly evaluated which
will lead to further discovery and innovation.

While a comprehensive competitiveness agenda is still a work-in-
progress, this legislation is good step forward. Providing public
access to cutting-edge scientific information is one way we can
encourage public interest in these fields and help accelerate the pace
of discovery and innovation. In promoting this legislation, I hope to
guarantee that students, researchers, and every American can access the
published results of the research they funded.