Friday, December 28, 2007

Two very important open Govt Laws passed

Two MAJOR Open Government Victories.

1 - All taxpayer funded medical research must now be made available online.


Washington, D.C. – December 26, 2007 – President Bush has signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007 (H.R. 2764), which includes a provision directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide the public with open online access to findings from its funded research. This is the first time the U.S. government has mandated public access to research funded by a major agency.

The provision directs the NIH to change its existing Public Access Policy, implemented as a voluntary measure in 2005, so that participation is required for agency-funded investigators. Researchers will now be required to deposit electronic copies of their peer-reviewed manuscripts into the National Library of Medicine's online archive, PubMed Central. Full texts of the articles will be publicly available and searchable online in PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication in a journal.

"Facilitated access to new knowledge is key to the rapid advancement of science," said Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Nobel Prize Winner. "The tremendous benefits of broad, unfettered access to information are already clear from the Human Genome Project, which has made its DNA sequences immediately and freely available to all via the Internet. Providing widespread access, even with a one-year delay, to the full text of research articles supported by funds from all institutes at the NIH will increase those benefits dramatically."

2- The FOIA or Freedom of Information Act has been improved.


Overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress is just one reason President Bush should sign the 2007 Open Government Act. The first major reform of the 40-year-old Freedom of Information Act removes bureaucratic obstacles and streamlines access to the information the American public needs to hold their government accountable.

A key provision in the legislation restores the presumption-of-disclosure standard, committing agencies to release requested information unless there is a finding that such disclosure could do harm. The legislation further protects the public's right to know by restoring meaningful deadlines for agencies to respond, with real consequences for stone-walling. It clarifies that the FOIA applies to government records held by outside private contractors. It establishes a FOIA hotline for all federal agencies, and a FOIA ombudsman to provide a meaningful alternative to costly litigation.