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5.1 HHS Public Access Policy for Research Data

HHS is in the process of developing a coordinated public access policy approach to enhance the use of federally-funded research publications.  The impetus for this endeavor stems from two main sources: 1) the February 22, 2013 Office of Science and Technology Policy Memorandum issued to the heads of federal agencies on “Increasing the Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research”, and 2) Division H, Section 527 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014.  The OSTP memo directs federal agencies with greater than $100 million in annual research and development expenditures to prepare plans to ensure that peer-reviewed publications and digital scientific data are accessible to the public, the scientific community, and industry. The Appropriations language for FY2014 largely mirrors the language of the Appropriations Act, but is focused in its entirety on developing a public access policy that would allow the public to have access to research publications.

Four of our OPDIVs are participating in the response. These are: the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the CDC; AHRQ, and the FDA. Given that these OPDIVs have unique missions, oversee vastly different types of research portfolios, operate under separate legal authorities, and typically receive independent funding streams for their infrastructure, we determined it was most practical for each of these four agencies to draft their own implementation plans tailored to their particular research portfolios and stakeholder needs.  Recognizing that many other HHS OPDIVs with smaller research portfolios conduct important research, all HHS agencies were invited to participate in the response. ASPR is also developing a public access plan for their portfolio of funded projects.

In developing our departmental research, our approach is to set forth guiding principles and a common framework around which our agencies can develop implementation plans tailored to the needs of their research communities and stakeholders.  Our aim is to provide continuity in our policies across HHS where feasible; keeping in mind the particular needs of our research communities and data users.  An important aspect of our planning effort takes into account the integration of the Public Access Memo with the requirements of the “Open Data Policy – Managing Information as an Asset”(http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2013/m-13-13.pdf). At an inflection point in history, we are well poised to strengthen our public access practices through modifying existing policies or creating new ones, and through leveraging existing platforms and tools in order to make sharing of federally-funded research results a widespread practice for HHS-funded researchers.

The draft final plans are will provided to OSTP by June 2014.  Pending OSTP review, we will issue final plans.  It is expected that we will implement our public access policies in the spring of 2015 and they will become effective at the beginning of FY 2016 (October 1, 2015).

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