On May 28, 2014, the US House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee passed the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014, H.R. 4186. The bill seeks to reauthorize sections of the America COMPETES Act relating to the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The bill is highly controversial and opposed by many organizations and institutions.
In March, ARL, with others in the Open Access Working Group, wrote a letter (PDF) opposing the provisions related to public access to federally funded research. An amendment relating to the public access provisions offered by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was successful in significantly improving the public access provisions. Also in March, ARL, with others in the Coalition for National Science Funding, wrote a letter (PDF) to members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology detailing concerns with the bill.
The legislation now moves to the House floor. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is expected to begin consideration of America COMPETES shortly.
For more information on the FIRST Act, see two recent opinion pieces:
- “Is Social Science Research in the National Interest?” by Lamar Smith, Peter McPherson, and Hunter Rawlings, in Scientific American on May 21, 2014
- “The FIRST Act Has Two Flaws That Could Limit Future Scientific Discoveries,” by David J. Skorton, in the Washington Post on May 20, 2014