Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act (FIRST)

113th Congress

H.R. 4186: The Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act (FIRST) (introduced 3/10/14)

FIRST is open access legislation that would hamper the public’s access to federally funded research.  While Section 303 of FIRST has been improved, the guidelines available to  federal agencies in the White House Directive on Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research and  the advancements made in the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations Act to expand the National Institutes of Health’s access program to include the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services are preferable.

May 28, 2014

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved the FIRST Act (H.R. 4186) by a vote of 20-16. An amendment offered by Representative Lofgren (D-CA) and Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to amend Section 303 of the FIRST Act passed by voice vote.  This amendment focuses on improving public access to federally funded research.  While it improves the bill we are grateful for its inclusion, we still urge agencies to follow the guidelines laid out in the White House Directive.

The amendment does the following:

  • Creates an embargo period of 12 months, rather than the 24 month embargo period in the original bill;
  • Allows for modification of the embargo period by a maximum of six months if the stakeholders can prove "substantial and unique harm;" and
  • Requires agencies to submit a report to Congress in 90 days that details their public access policy and implementation of the policy within one year.

Over the last two decades, there has been talk about closing the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and most recently there was an effort to include an amendment in FIRST to do this. This did not happen, but the Washington Office will continue to monitor the situation as the bill moves forward.

March 24, 2014
ALA joined 15 other organizations in a letter (pdf) to Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson of the House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressing opposition to Section 303 of the FIRST Act.

March 11, 2014
The FIRST Act was referred to the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology.

March 10, 2014
The Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act (FIRST) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and  co-sponsored by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Chris Collins (R-NY).

Please see the ALA Washington Office's District Dispatch blog post on March 11th titled Road blocks to federally funded research for additional information.

The American Library Association opposed Section 303 of H.R. 4186.  Please take a moment to tell your representatives to oppose this bill.