I wrote earlier today that I wasn't sure about the nature of the recent White House directive requiring open access to research and development in government organizations. I was iffy because my source was the White House (who will obviously be biased in their own favor) and Huffington Post (who are not notorious for thorough, accurate journalism). I'm a little less reserved in my optimism now, though, because PublicKnowledge.org has published a write-up about it. It's a re-post of a Google Plus post by Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Open Access Project. In it, he talks about why the directive is good, and how it compares and contrasts to the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), which I didn't know was a thing.
The two approaches complement one another. FASTR does not make the White House directive unnecessary. FASTR may never be adopted. And if it is adopted, it will be after some time for study, education, lobbying, amendment, negotiation, and debate. By contrast, the White House directive takes effect today. The wheels are already turning. Compared to this executive action, FASTR is slower. (Thanks to Becky Cremona for this good line.)
Similarly, the White House directive does not make FASTR unnecessary. On the contrary, we need legislation to codify federal OA policies. The next president could rescind today's White House directive, but could not rescind legislation. (One lesson: Don't let up on efforts to persuade Congress to pass FASTR.)
So, great news. Progress for science, freedom of information for America's citizens, and transparency always makes corruption harder, so steps like this almost inevitably improve government.
(Also: I learned about a new thing in Open Access terminology in this article. Apparently there's two popular standards for access: Green OA, which means organizations publish directly to their own open access archive; and Gold OA, which means organizations publish their research in Open Access journals.)