Twenty-seven university presidents and provosts have posted an open letter in support of FRPAA. The list of institutions includes Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Cornell, Duke, Stanford, Tulane, Rutgers, Indiana, two campuses of the University of Texas, and the University of California system and two of its individual campuses. The letter echoes an earlier letter supporting the 2006 version of the bill. The original posting is hosted at the web site of Harvard’s provost (one of the signatories), and Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication provides a copy as well.

An excerpt:

The United States Congress will have the opportunity to consider the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). FRPAA would require Federal agencies whose extramural research budgets exceed $100 million to develop policies ensuring open, public access to the research supported by their grants or conducted by their employees. This Bill embodies core ideals shared by higher education, research institutions and their partners everywhere. The Bill builds upon the success of the first U.S. policy for public access to publicly funded research – implemented in 2008 through the National Institutes of Health – and mirrors the intent of campus-based policies for research access that are being adopted by a growing number of public and private institutions across the nation.

We believe that this legislation represents a watershed and provides an opportunity for the entire U.S. higher education and research community to draw upon their traditional partnerships and collaboratively realize the unquestionably good intentions of the Bill’s framers – broadening access to publicly funded research in order to accelerate the advancement of knowledge and maximize the related public good. By ensuring broad and diverse access to taxpayer-funded research the Bill also supports the intuitive and democratic principle that, with reasonable exceptions for issues of national security, the public ought to have access to the results of activities it funds.

The broad dissemination of the results of scholarly inquiry and discourse is essential for higher education to fulfill its long-standing commitment to the advancement and conveyance of knowledge. Indeed, it is mission critical. For the land-grant and publicly funded institutions among us, it addresses the complementary commitment to public service and public access that is included in our charters. In keeping with this mission, we agree with FRPAA’s basic premise that enabling the broadest possible access to new ideas resulting from government-funded research promotes progress, economic growth, and public welfare. Furthermore, we know that, when combined with public policy such as FRPAA proposes, the Internet and digital technology are powerful tools for removing access barriers and enabling new and creative uses of the results of research.

A class photo of the 110th United States Senate.
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The FRPAA bill — S.1373 in the Senate — has just been introduced into the House as HR.5037. The bill calls for federal agencies to “develop public access policies relating to research conducted by employees of that agency or from funds administered by that agency.” You can register your support for the bill.

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