On Friday 22 Feb 2013 the White House issued a directive which requires federal agencies with annual research and development budgets of $100 million or more to provide free online access to the results of that research, within a year of publication. It has been described as a watershed moment by Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC and follows closely on the introduction of a new open access bill to the US Congress: Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR).
These two important developments have been praised by open access advocates such as SPARC, Creative Commons and the Association of Research Libraries, and are compared here by Peter Suber. While the directive and FASTR differ on proposed embargo lengths, they both recommend deposit in a repository as the route to open access, rather than the 'Gold' route (publication in OA journals) favoured by the UK government.
The announcement and policy are available from the Obama Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The directive comes after years of campaigning for open access, and a We the People petition 'Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research' which received over 65000 signatures and this official response.