amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

President Bush Signs FY 2008 Omnibus: Bill Mandates Free Access to NIH-Funded Research Findings

January 7, 2008—President Bush signed into law a $555 billion omnibus spending bill on December 26, 2007, which includes budget appropriations for both foreign and domestic HIV/AIDS programs.

The spending provisions in the bill include $29 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $300 million of which is earmarked for transfer to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The bill also includes $5 billion for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

In addition to budget allocations, the bill includes a provision requiring the NIH to provide the public with open online access to findings from its funded research. The new policy will require NIH-funded scientists to submit a final copy of their research papers when they are accepted for publication in a journal. The papers will be made available within 12 months of publication in an open-access database maintained by the NIH.

Since 2005, the NIH has had a program in place for scientists to voluntarily submit their papers for posting on the open-access database, but only about five percent of grantees have done so. This is the first time the U.S. government has mandated public access to research findings from a government agency.

The appropriations bill also removes restrictions on the use of local taxpayer dollars to fund syringe exchange programs in the District of Columbia.