Subcommittee Evaluates Access to Federally Funded Scientific Data, Need for Enhanced Transparency

Mar 5, 2013

Washington D.C. – The Subcommittee on Research today held a hearing to evaluate making data from federally funded research publicly available.  Members stressed that public access to data is an issue of transparency and is vital to scientific integrity.

Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “The growing lack of scientific integrity and transparency has many causes but one thing is very clear: without open access to data, there can be neither integrity nor transparency from the conclusions reached by the scientific community. Furthermore, when there is no reliable access to data, the progress of science is impeded and leads to inefficiencies in the scientific discovery process. Important results cannot be verified, and confidence in scientific claims dwindles.

“I believe our nation’s scientists will continue to develop the breakthrough discoveries and innovations of tomorrow. However, scientists receiving federal funding need to be accountable and responsible stewards of tax-payer resources. Hard-working Americans trust our scientists to be genuine and authentic in the way they conduct and share federally funded research.”

The federal government is the main sponsor of basic science research, with over $140 billion spent in 2013. Committee Republicans have long been critical of federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, refusing to make public the basic scientific data underlying regulatory actions.

Chairman Bucshon summarized his policy goal, stating, “We want to maximize access to data while protecting personal privacy, avoid any negative impact on intellectual property rights and innovation, and preserve data without ridiculous cost or administrative burdens.”

Today’s hearing follows an Investigation and Oversight Subcommittee hearing held last March, examining open access to scholarly publications, whereas the focus today was access to data used in federal research.

The following witnesses testified:

Prof. Bruce Alberts, Professor of Biochemistry, University of California San Francisco

Prof. Victoria Stodden, Assistant Professor of Statistics, Columbia University

Dr. Stanley Young, Assistant Director for Bioinformatics, National Institute of Statistical Sciences

Mr. Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management at Johns Hopkins University and Hodson Director of the Digital Research and Curation Center