A Treasure Trove of Knowledge for the White House to Unlock

Every year, the federal government gives away billions of dollars in grants -- through dozens of agencies and hundreds of programs as diverse as learning innovation grants and urban housing development grants.

Throughout the course of these grants, recipients develop thousands of materials: on the complex side, teaching guides and briefing memos, learning assessments -- and on the simple side, basic charts and graphics.

Instead of those materials becoming accessible to the public, however, they often sit in archives, unused beyond their original purpose.

That's why U.S. PIRG joined 91 other education organizations, institutions of higher education, technology companies, and foundations in calling on the White House to ensure that federally funded educational materials are made available to the public.

This treasure trove of knowledge and learning materials could have tremendous benefits for the public. They can be adapted and reused to improve workforce and job-training programs, strengthen courses at institutions of higher education, and to more broadly expand access to educational opportunity.

This fall, the Administration is developing new ideas for the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan -- an international commitment to transparency and openness -- and making federally funded educational resources open to the public should be on the list.

There are three main reasons why:

  1. We don't need to spend taxpayer money recreating the wheel. Openly licensing all educational materials produced by federal grants and making them accessible to the public would allow future grantees to build upon materials already developed, instead of going back to the drawing board each cycle.

  • Taxpayer funded materials should be accessible to the public. Simply put, if the public funds it, it should be available for the public to use.
  • Most importantly, it could significantly improve existing job and educational programs. The President has long recognized the importance of strengthening teaching and learning while expanding educational opportunity. Allowing the public access to billions of dollars of educational material would let educators and learners draw from the collective knowledge of thousands of federal grantees.
  • The Open Government National Action Plan presents the perfect opportunity to make this commonsense policy a reality. That's why groups as diverse as Creative Commons, New America, Mozilla, the Association of Research Libraries, the Sunlight Foundation, and U.S. PIRG sent this letter to the Administration today.

    You can add your name to the letter here.