Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., want all Americans to have free access to taxpayer-funded research created by the Federal government with a focus on equity, sustainability, and strategic technological development.

In a letter to Alondra Nelson, the deputy director of science and society at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the senators called for the establishment of “a national cross-government public access policy for Federally funded research.”

“This would allow all Americans to freely access research supported by their taxpayer dollars, advance knowledge and innovation, and ensure that the public sees a robust return on their government’s investment in science,” Sens. Wyden and Markey wrote.

The senators noted that the Federal government uses taxpayer dollars to fund research that is often only accessible through expensive journal subscriptions, sometimes reaching into the thousands of dollars.

The lawmakers said libraries and smaller colleges and universities cannot provide access to all of the journals their communities need, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a strain on budgets.

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The senators also emphasized the increasing need for research amid the pandemic and President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, which aims to cut cancer deaths by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years.

“To truly meet the magnitude of the research and innovation needs of today’s fast-paced, globalized world, including meeting the goals of the Cancer Moonshot, our nation needs a bold, comprehensive and government-wide public-access policy guaranteeing rapid access for all Federally funded research articles with broad re-use rights,” the senators wrote.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.