Daines, Coons Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Promote Open Science and Innovation in Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage and increase the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science within the federal government to advance and accelerate scientific research, literacy, and diplomacy.

This is the first ever legislation to grant explicit authority to the government to use these methods.

“In the private sector, I’ve seen firsthand how empowering Americans to innovate can yield cost savings, greater efficiencies and better results,” Daines stated. “The federal government should encourage the same by enlisting tools like crowdsourcing and citizen science in many of its projects. The best solutions to the challenges facing our nation are going to come from small businesses and the American people — not big government. This bill helps encourage the federal government to pursue innovative, citizen-driven solutions.”

 “Open innovation tools like crowdsourcing and citizen science can present solutions to real challenges by drawing on the knowledge, creativity, and expertise of citizens, but it’s an approach that is too often underutilized in government,” Coons stated. “This common-sense bill would empower people from all over the country and world to work together to help tackle problems and questions our government faces today that are increasingly too big in scope and complexity to solve without the public’s input and assistance.” 

The Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act of 2015 provides clarification and guidelines for government agencies to utilize the resourcefulness and innovation of the public to solve problems without requiring any new funding or authorizations.

Provisions included in the bill would:

  • Clarify that executive branch agencies, commissions, and all military branches have the explicit authority to make use of crowdsourcing and citizen science projects;
  • Provide guidelines for how to carry out these projects, and make sure that all volunteer participants know what they will do and how their contributions and data will be used;
  • Answer unresolved questions about data access and availability, technology and code access, data ownership, data publishing, and data use;
  • Encourage agencies to design projects across agencies and in partnership with the private sector, educational institutions or other local agencies.

The bill is endorsed by Genetic Alliance, Sage Bionetworks, SciStarter, the American Geophysical Union, the American Geosciences Institute, the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, the Foundation for Earth Science, and the Soil Science Society of America.

It is also supported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Citizen Science Association.