Political theater about public access to federally funded research

On July 29, 2010, the Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing entitled: “Public Access to Federally-Funded Research”. The hearing was chaired by Subcommittee Chairman Representative William Lacy Clay (D-MO).

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has posted a news item about the hearings, entitled: Summary: Hearing on Public Access to Federally Funded Research, dated August 12, 2010.  Excerpt from the last paragraph of this summary: “Next steps: Congress will be in recess until September 9, so any further action on this issue or related legislation will happen after that point.”

There was a webcast of the hearings (2 hr 14 min) and a video is available. Copies of the Opening Statement of Chairman Clay and of the Prepared Testimony of the ten panel members are available here.

Some information about the video (the total duration of the hearing was 2:14:00):

  • 3:10 End of Chairman’s Opening Statement.
  • 7:30 End of statement from Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
  • 7:35 Introduction of Panel I.
  • 9:40 Beginning of reading of Prepared Testimony by each of three members of the first panel. Each member was given 5 minutes to present their testimony. (All had concerns about government-mandated public access to the outputs of federally funded research).
  • 26:10 End of Panel I presentations and beginning of first question period. Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Judy Chu (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Chairman Clay asked questions.
  • 1:07:25 End of first panel.
  • 1:09:00 Introduction of Panel II.
  • 1:13:35 Beginning of reading of Prepared Testimony by each of six members of the second panel. (All were supporters of public access to the outputs of federally funded research).
  • 1:43:15 End of Panel II presentations and beginning of second question period. Chairman Clay was the only Representative still present, and he asked several questions.
  • 1:59:10 End of second panel.
  • 2:00:15 Introduction of Panel III.
  • 2:01:30 Beginning of reading of Prepared Testimony by the single member of the third panel, Dr. David Lipman (Director, NCBI, NLM, National Institutes of Health).
  • 2:05:50 End of Panel III presentation and beginning of third question period. Again, Chairman Clay was the only Representative still present, and he asked several questions.
  • 2:14:00 End of hearing.

Summaries of Twitter messages (tweets) about the webcast have been posted here and here. The emphasis is on the Panel II session.

Another commentary about the hearings is: House Holds Hearing on Status of Open Access, FASEB Washington Update, August 6, 2010. The emphasis is on the Panel I session.

Comments: How to review this video, as an example of political theater? First impression: it was based on three one-act plays. Each one was nicely staged. Second impression: the model for these plays was one of the “Judge So-and-So” programs that can be seen on television. In such programs, the judge listens while various people present their different versions of a dispute, and tries to decide who is being deceitful and who isn’t. Representative Clay played the role of “Judge Clay” very well. Most of the supporting cast were also excellent (although perhaps Representative Maloney spent more time in the spotlight than was really necessary). There were even some humorous moments.

What was the purpose of this particular example of political theater? It served well as a tutorial about the OA movement. However, Representative Clay was the only member of the House to benefit from the full tutorial. The other three Representatives were present and asked questions only during the first act. Then, they left.

Were these hearings simply a prelude to further legislative action or an executive pronouncement? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

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2 Comments »

  1. Jim Till said

    See also: Do taxpayers pay for private sector peer-reviewed journal articles? by Charles J Greenberg, August 13, 2010.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Seye Abimbola and BioMed Central, OA Tracking Project. OA Tracking Project said: Political theater about public access to federally funded research: Posted by petersuber to oa.comment oa.mandates… http://bit.ly/9K5CYg […]

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