On the afternoon of Friday, February 25, 2013, the Obama Administration announced that it had released a memorandum (.pdf) in response to a We the People commission requesting access to taxpayer funded research. The petition recieved more than 65,000 signatures.
The memo, published by John Holden, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, directs agencies with research and development budgets larger than $100 million to provide public access to the results of their scientific research within one year of publication. These agencies, which include the National Science Foundation and the National Auronautics and Space Administration (NASA), have been allowed six months to develop a plan of action.
"Scientific research supported by the Federal Government catalyzes innovative breakthroughs that drive our economy,” the directive, Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research, reads. "The results of that research become the grist for new insights and are assets for progress in areas such as health, energy, the environment, agriculture, and national security.”
This memo is follows the introduction of a bill in the Senate known as the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR), a bipartisan move with many of the same goals as the White House directive. As noted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, while the Administration’s policy on access is an important step, it can be overturned by Obama’s successor. The success of FASTR is crucial to the continued adoption of Open Access policy.
For further reading about the Administration's Open Access mandate, please see the New York Times, ALA’s Direct Dispatch, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and an elucidating post by Open Access leader Peter Suber.