Tag Archive | Congress

Competes Act Passes Senate, House

Our bill on citizen science (that started with my briefing the awesome AAAS fellow Rose Mutiso in Sen Coons’ office in early 2014) was incorporated into the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (COMPETES) (see Sec 402), and is now on its way for signing by the President.


Full Text (see also section 402 pasted below)


Thanks  to citizen science champions Sen Coons, Rose Mutiso, Allison Schwier and Franz, to Darlene Cavalier and the American Chemical Society for helping to organize subsequent congressional briefings, to Jenn Gustetic who helped from her position at OSTP, and to Sophia Liu, Amy Kaminski, John McLaughlin, Ellen McCallie, Jennifer Couch, Jay Benforado and other CCS federal staff and CSA members who offered their technical expertise to inform congressional staff’s efforts (through *multiple* rounds of review and comments).

Congrats all!


(a) Short Title.—This section may be cited as the “Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act”.

(b) Sense Of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) the authority granted to Federal agencies under the America COMPETESReauthorization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–358; 124 Stat. 3982) to pursue the use of incentive prizes and challenges has yielded numerous benefits;

(2) crowdsourcing and citizen science projects have a number of additional unique benefits, including accelerating scientific research, increasing cost effectiveness to maximize the return on taxpayer dollars, addressing societal needs, providing hands-on learning in STEM, and connecting members of the public directly to Federal science agency missions and to each other; and

(3) granting Federal science agencies the direct, explicit authority to use crowdsourcing and citizen science will encourage its appropriate use to advance Federal science agency missions and stimulate and facilitate broader public participation in the innovation process, yielding numerous benefits to the Federal Government and citizens who participate in such projects.

(c) Definitions.—In this section:

(1) CITIZEN SCIENCE.—The term “citizen science” means a form of open collaboration in which individuals or organizations participate voluntarily in the scientific process in various ways, including—

(A) enabling the formulation of research questions;

(B) creating and refining project design;

(C) conducting scientific experiments;

(D) collecting and analyzing data;

(E) interpreting the results of data;

(F) developing technologies and applications;

(G) making discoveries; and

(H) solving problems.

(2) CROWDSOURCING.—The term “crowdsourcing” means a method to obtain needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting voluntary contributions from a group of individuals or organizations, especially from an online community.

(3) PARTICIPANT.—The term “participant” means any individual or other entity that has volunteered in a crowdsourcing or citizen science project under this section.

(d) Crowdsourcing And Citizen Science.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The head of each Federal science agency, or the heads of multiple Federal science agencies working cooperatively, may utilize crowdsourcing and citizen science to conduct projects designed to advance the mission of the respective Federal science agency or the joint mission of Federal science agencies, as applicable.

(2) VOLUNTARY SERVICES.—Notwithstanding section 1342 of title 31, United States Code, the head of a Federal science agency may accept, subject to regulations issued by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, services from participants under this section if such services—

(A) are performed voluntarily as a part of a crowdsourcing or citizen science project authorized under paragraph (1);

(B) are not financially compensated for their time; and

(C) will not be used to displace any employee of the Federal Government.

(3) OUTREACH.—The head of each Federal science agency engaged in a crowdsourcing or citizen science project under this section shall make public and promote such project to encourage broad participation.


(A) IN GENERAL.—Each Federal science agency shall determine the appropriate level of consent, registration, or acknowledgment of the terms of use that are required from participants in crowdsourcing or citizen science projects under this section on a per-project basis.

(B) DISCLOSURES.—In seeking consent, conducting registration, or developing terms of use for a project under this subsection, a Federal science agency shall disclose the privacy, intellectual property, data ownership, compensation, service, program, and other terms of use to the participant in a clear and reasonable manner.

(C) MODE OF CONSENT.—A Federal agency or Federal science agencies, as applicable, may obtain consent electronically or in written form from participants under this section.

(5) PROTECTIONS FOR HUMAN SUBJECTS.—Any crowdsourcing or citizen science project under this section that involves research involving human subjects shall be subject to part 46 of title 28, Code of Federal Regulations (or any successor regulation).

(6) DATA.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—A Federal science agency shall, where appropriate and to the extent practicable, make data collected through a crowdsourcing or citizen science project under this section available to the public, in a machine readable format, unless prohibited by law.

(B) NOTICE.—As part of the consent process, the Federal science agency shall notify all participants—

(i) of the expected uses of the data compiled through the project;

(ii) if the Federal science agency will retain ownership of such data;

(iii) if and how the data and results from the project would be made available for public or third party use; and

(iv) if participants are authorized to publish such data.

(7) TECHNOLOGIES AND APPLICATIONS.—Federal science agencies shall endeavor to make technologies, applications, code, and derivations of such intellectual property developed through a crowdsourcing or citizen science project under this section available to the public.

(8) LIABILITY.—Each participant in a crowdsourcing or citizen science project under this section shall agree—

(A) to assume any and all risks associated with such participation; and

(B) to waive all claims against the Federal Government and its related entities, except for claims based on willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits (whether direct, indirect, or consequential) arising from participation in the project.

(9) RESEARCH MISCONDUCT.—Federal science agencies coordinating crowdsourcing or citizen science projects under this section shall make all practicable efforts to ensure that participants adhere to all relevant Federal research misconduct policies and other applicable ethics policies.

(10) MULTI-SECTOR PARTNERSHIPS.—The head of each Federal science agency engaged in crowdsourcing or citizen scienceunder this section, or the heads of multiple Federal science agencies working cooperatively, may enter into a contract or other agreement to share administrative duties for such projects with—

(A) a for profit or nonprofit private sector entity, including a private institution of higher education;

(B) a State, tribal, local, or foreign government agency, including a public institution of higher education; or

(C) a public-private partnership.

(11) FUNDING.—In carrying out crowdsourcing and citizen science projects under this section, the head of a Federal science agency, or the heads of multiple Federal science agencies working cooperatively—

(A) may use funds appropriated by Congress;

(B) may publicize projects and solicit and accept funds or in-kind support for such projects, to be available to the extent provided by appropriations Acts, from—

(i) other Federal agencies;

(ii) for profit or nonprofit private sector entities, including private institutions of higher education; or

(iii) State, tribal, local, or foreign government agencies, including public institutions of higher education; and

(C) may not give any special consideration to any entity described in subparagraph (B) in return for such funds or in-kind support.


(A) GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANCE.—The Administrator of the General Services Administration, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, shall, at no cost to Federal science agencies, identify and develop relevant products, training, and services to facilitate the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science projects under this section, including by specifying the appropriate contract vehicles and technology and organizational platforms to enhance the ability of Federal science agencies to carry out the projects under this section.

(B) ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE.—The head of each Federal science agency engaged in crowdsourcing or citizen science under this section may—

(i) consult any guidance provided by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, including the Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit;

(ii) designate a coordinator for that Federal science agency’s crowdsourcing and citizen science projects; and

(iii) share best practices with other Federal agencies, including participation of staff in the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science.

(e) Report.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall include, as a component of an annual report required under section 24(p) of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3719(p)), a report on the projects and activities carried out under this section.

(2) INFORMATION INCLUDED.—The report required under paragraph (1) shall include—

(A) a summary of each crowdsourcing and citizen science project conducted by a Federal science agency during the most recently completed 2 fiscal years, including a description of the proposed goals of each crowdsourcing and citizen science project;

(B) an analysis of why the utilization of a crowdsourcing or citizen science project summarized in subparagraph (A) was the preferable method of achieving the goals described in subparagraph (A) as opposed to other authorities available to the Federal science agency, such as contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and prize competitions;

(C) the participation rates, submission levels, number of consents, and any other statistic that might be considered relevant in each crowdsourcing and citizen science project;

(D) a detailed description of—

(i) the resources, including personnel and funding, that were used in the execution of each crowdsourcing and citizen science project;

(ii) the project activities for which such resources were used; and

(iii) how the obligations and expenditures relating to the project’s execution were allocated among the accounts of the Federal science agency, including a description of the amount and source of all funds, private, public, and in-kind, contributed to each crowdsourcing and citizen science project;

(E) a summary of the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science by all Federal science agencies, including interagency and multi-sector partnerships;

(F) a description of how each crowdsourcing and citizen science project advanced the mission of each participating Federal science agency;

(G) an identification of each crowdsourcing or citizen science project where data collected through such project was not made available to the public, including the reasons for such action; and

(H) any other information that the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy considers relevant.

(f) Savings Provision.—Nothing in this section may be construed—

(1) to affect the authority to conduct crowdsourcing and citizen science authorized by any other provision of law; or

(2) to displace Federal Government resources allocated to the Federal science agencies that use crowdsourcing or citizen scienceauthorized under this section to carry out a project.

US Senate introduces Geospatial Data Reform Act 2015

Latest Title: Geospatial Data Act of 2015
Sponsor: Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] (introduced 3/16/2015)      Cosponsors (1)
Latest Major Action: 3/16/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.



Also see the congressional record (search for word “geospatial”):

NEW US Gov Accountability Report on Geospatial Information

Geospatial Information: Office of Management and Budget and Agencies Can Reduce Duplication By Making Coordination a Priority

GAO-14-226T, Dec 5, 2013

The President and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have established policies and procedures for coordinating investments in geospatial data, however, in November 2012, GAO reported that governmentwide committees and federal departments and agencies had not effectively implemented them. The committee that was established to promote the coordination of geospatial data nationwide–the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)–had developed and endorsed key standards and had established a clearinghouse of metadata. GAO found that the clearinghouse was not being used by agencies to identify planned geospatial investments to promote coordination and reduce duplication. In addition, the committee had not yet fully planned for or implemented an approach to manage geospatial data as related groups of investments to allow agencies to more effectively plan geospatial data collection efforts and minimize duplicative investments, and its strategic plan was missing key elements.

Other shortfalls have impaired progress in coordinating geospatial data. Specifically, none of the three federal departments in GAO’s review had fully implemented important activities such as preparing and implementing a strategy for advancing geospatial activities within their respective departments. Moreover, the agencies in GAO’s review responsible for governmentwide management of specific geospatial data had implemented some but not all key activities for coordinating the national coverage of specific geospatial data.

While OMB has oversight responsibilities for geospatial data, GAO reported in November 2012 that according to OMB staff, the agency did not have complete and reliable information to identify potentially duplicative geospatial investments. GAO also reported that FGDC, federal departments and agencies, and OMB had not yet fully implemented policies and procedures for coordinating geospatial investments because these efforts had not been a priority. As a result, efforts to acquire data were uncoordinated and the federal government acquired duplicative geospatial data. For example, a National Geospatial Advisory Committee representative stated that a commercial provider leases the same proprietary parcel data to six federal agencies. GAO concluded that unless the key entities determined that coordinating geospatial investments was a priority, the federal government would continue to acquire duplicative geospatial information and waste taxpayer dollars.

Why GAO Did This Study

The federal government collects, maintains, and uses geospatial information–information linked to specific geographic locations–to support many functions, including national security and disaster response. In 2012, the Department of the Interior estimated that the federal government was investing billions of dollars on geospatial data annually, and that duplication was common.

In November 2012, GAO reported on efforts to reduce duplicative investments in geospatial data, focusing on OMB, FGDC, and three agencies: the Departments of Commerce, the Interior, and Transportation.

This statement summarizes the results of that November 2012 report on progress and challenges in coordinating geospatial information and includes updates on the implementation of recommendations made in that report.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making no new recommendations in this statement. In November 2012, GAO recommended that to improve coordination and reduce duplication, FGDC develop a national strategy for coordinating geospatial investments; federal agencies follow federal guidance for managing geospatial investments; and OMB develop a mechanism to identify and report on geospatial investments. Since that time, FGDC and several agencies have taken some steps to implement the recommendations. However, additional actions are still needed.

Texas proposes one of nation’s “most sweeping” mobile privacy laws

by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, March 6, 2013

Privacy experts say that a pair of new mobile privacy bills recently introduced in Texas are among the “most sweeping” ever seen. And they say the proposed legislation offers better protection than a related privacy bill introduced this week in Congress.If passed, the new bills would establish a well-defined, probable-cause-driven warrant requirement for all location information. That’s not just data from GPS, but potentially pen register, tap and trace, and tower location data as well. Such data would be disclosed to law enforcement “if there is probable cause to believe the records disclosing location information will provide evidence in a criminal investigation.”

For full text of the article, please visit Texas proposes one of nation’s “most sweeping” mobile privacy laws | Ars Technica.


Lawmakers Target Drones With “Preserving American Privacy Act Of 2013”

by Kit Eaton, Fast Company, Feb 18, 2013

New draft legislation in the House of Representatives is attempting to restrict the private use of drones, making it a misdemeanor to use a UAV to photograph a person or their property without their explicit permission. Public space use would be equally limited, according to the “Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013” (PDF), requiring a max altitude of just six feet. Law enforcement bodies would have to obtain a warrant or court order to be able collect information on individuals in a private area. …

For full text of the article, visit Lawmakers Target Drones With “Preserving American Privacy Act Of 2013” | Fast Company.


Congressional Hearing Highlights Lack of Domestic Drone Rules

by Kelsey Atherton, Popular Science, February 15, 2013

…most Americans are not terribly fond of the idea of their neighbors flying cameras around and taking pictures of them in their backyards. The problem is that, right now, there is no explicit federal guidance prohibiting this. … according to testimony by Dr. Gerald Dillingham, civilian drones are governed by the same rules that apply to model aircraft–which is basically no rules at all. … Dr. Dillingham, director of civil aviation issues in the Government Accountability Office, testified that while the Federal Aviation Administration has a clear safety mandate, it doesn’t have one for privacy. So it would fall to Congress to decide which governmental body–the FAA or some other organization–should draw up privacy regulations. ….

For full text of this article, please visit Congressional Hearing Offers A Sneak Peek At The Future Of Domestic Drone Rules | Popular Science.

Op-Ed Silicon Valley’s Problem – Technology vs Governance

By Catherine Bracy, Director of International Programs at Code for America, December 31, 2012

…But even if they were politically savvy, the issues the technology industry would be pushing are a different set of interests than consumers (and by that I mean citizens) are concerned with. Which brings me to the second part of what I meant: those who have outsized power and influence through network technology to make their voices heard often put it to use in the most inane and self-centered ways. There was lots of talk after the Internet beat back SOPA and PIPA about the potential for networked models of citizen participation that actually WORKED. The so-far failed opportunity to realize that potential has been starkly revealed in the last few weeks: the tech-savvy in an uproar over Instagram’s terms of service while at the same time sitting idly by as FISA gets reauthorized, and staring helplessly from the sidelines as Congress bungles the fiscal cliff. …

For full text of this op-ed, please visit Silicon Valley’s Problem | BraceLand.

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