Yesterday Representative Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) introduced H.R. 4004, the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) of 2012. This bill would extend the general terms of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy to research funded by other major federal research agencies. The major difference with this bill appears to be a shorter window for articles to be made freely available following journal publication (6 months rather than 12). Doyle’s bill has co-sponsors from each party, and is looking for more. An identical bill (S.2096) was introduced in the Senate by Senator Cornyn (R-Texas), also with bipartisan co-sponsors.
Before everyone gets all excited, this isn’t really news, or rather, this isn’t really new. As Congressman Doyle notes, he has introduced this bill in previous Congresses, and has worked on this specific issue since 2006. The same is true for this bill in the Senate, and for the Research Works Act, which would seek to roll back NIH Open Access Policy. Editions of this bill have also been introduced in previous Congresses. As you might surmise, neither kind of bill has passed Congress.
While there’s a lot more public attention this time around, I still don’t expect either bill to pass. For instance, this year’s FRPAA in the House has been assigned to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The chair of that committee is Representative Darrell Issa (R-California). He’s the chief sponsor of the Research Works Act, which is essentially the opposite version of FRPAA. There’s also the question of whether this will get much Congressional attention at all. Maybe if the Executive Branch does something with its comment period on open access, Congress will feel inclined to act. But both branches have other things to keep them occupied, and it’s an election year.