Cornyn’s Remarks Introducing S. 1373

GovTrack has the full text of the remarks made by senators as they introduce legislation. Here are Sen. Cornyn’s remarks as he introduced S. 1373, the Federal Research Public Access Act:

Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX]: [Introducing S. 1373] Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Federal Research Public Access Act. I am very pleased to be joined again by my good friend and colleague, Senator JOE LIEBERMAN, who has remained dedicated to seeing this important legislation passed. This bipartisan bill is the same legislation we introduced in the 109th Congress. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure American taxpayers’ dollars are spent wisely, which is even more important now in this time of fiscal tension.

To put things in perspective, the Federal Government spends upwards of $55 billion on investments for basic and applied research every year. There are approximately 11 departments/agencies that are the recipients of these investments, including: the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture. These departments/agencies then distribute the taxpayers’ money to fund research which is typically conducted by outside researchers working for universities, health care systems, and other groups.

While this research is undoubtedly necessary and is beneficial to America, it remains the case that not all Americans are capable of experiencing these benefits firsthand. Usually the results of the researchers are published in academic journals. Despite the fact that the research was paid for by Americans’ tax dollars, most citizens are unable to attain timely access to the wealth of information that the research provides.

Some Federal agencies, most notably the NIH, have recognized this lack of availability and have proceeded to take positive steps in the right direction by requiring that those articles based on government-funded research be easily accessible to the public in a timely manner. I am proud to report that the NIH’s public access policy has been a success over the past few years. By the NIH implementing a groundbreaking public access policy, there has been strong progress in making the NIH’s federally funded research available to the public, and has helped to energize this debate.

Although this has surely been an encouraging and important step forward, Senator LIEBERMAN and I believe there is more that can and must be done, as this is just a small part of the research funded by the Federal Government.

With that in mind, Senator LIEBERMAN and I find it necessary to reintroduce the Federal Research Public Access Act that will build on and refine the work done by the NIH and require that the Federal Government’s leading underwriters of research adopt meaningful public access policies. Our legislation provides a simple and practical solution to giving the public access to the research it funds.

Our bill will ask all Federal departments and agencies that invest $100 million or more annually in research to develop a public access policy. Our goal is to have the results of all government-funded research to be disseminated and made available to the largest possible audience. By speeding access to this research, we can help promote the advancement of science, accelerate the pace of new discoveries and innovations, and improve the lives and welfare of people at home and abroad.

Each policy that these departments and agencies develop will require that articles resulting from federal funding must be presented in some publicly accessible archive within six months of publication. In doing so, the American taxpayers will have guaranteed access to the latest research, ensuring that they do not have to pay for the same research twice–first to conduct it and then again to view the results.

This simple legislation will provide our government with an opportunity to better leverage our investment in research and in turn ensure a greater return on that investment. All Americans stand to benefit from this bill, including patients diagnosed with a disease who will have the ability to use the Internet to read the latest articles in their entirety concerning their prognosis, students who will be able to find full abundant research as they further their education, or researchers who will have their findings more broadly evaluated which will lead to further discovery and innovation.

While a comprehensive competitiveness agenda is still a work-in-progress, this legislation is good step forward. Providing public access to cutting-edge scientific information is one way we can encourage public interest in these fields and help accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation. In promoting this legislation, I hope to guarantee that students, researchers, and every American can access the published results of the research they funded.