HHS Rolls Out Public Access Plans

The US Department of Health and Human Services outlines how the National Institutes of Health and its other agencies will make research results public.

By Tracy Vence | March 3, 2015

FLICKR, JOHN MARTINEZ PAVLIGAResponding to a February 2013 memorandum from John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week (February 27) announced its plans to expand public access to the research funded through its agencies, which include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Building upon the existing requirement that publications authored by NIH-funded investigators be made publicly available within 12 months, implementation of HHS’s plan “will add . . . an estimated 110,000 peer-reviewed scholarly articles authored by HHS-funded researchers each year,” the agency noted in a statement.

Because the NIH, CDC, FDA, and other agencies operate independently of one another, HHS has issued separate public access action plans for each. Like the NIH, the CDC already has certain public access policies in place. The FDA, on the other hand, has no such existing rules.

“Our operating divisions are at different stages with respect to the maturity of their public access policies and infrastructure,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell wrote in a February 27 letter. “We anticipate these policies to become effective no later than the end of calendar year 2015.” 

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