U.S. Senate Passes Daines’ Bipartisan Bill to Promote Open Science and Innovation in Government

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines’ bipartisan bill to encourage and increase the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science within the federal government to advance and accelerate scientific research, literacy and diplomacy passed the U.S. Senate this evening. 

This is the first ever legislation to grant explicit authority to the government to use these methods. Daines’ bill is included in S. 3084 American Innovation and Competitiveness Act.

“The best solutions to the challenges facing our country are going to come from hardworking folks – not the federal bureaucracy,” Daines stated. “By encouraging the federal government to pursue citizen-driven solutions we will be able to yield better results more efficiently.” 

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.