Federal Government Releases Memo, Toolkit for Citizen Science

PictureGT moving and shaking at the White House.

By Emily Stifler Wolfe
ASC Staff

ASC is riding the crest of a powerful wave. At a September 30 forum, The White House released a memo on crowdsourcing and citizen science, as well as a new Federal toolkit for citizen science.
“The field of citizen science has just been elevated in a dramatic way,” said ASC Executive Director Gregg Treinish, who attended the invitation-only forum in the Eisenhower Building.

Both the memo and the toolkit are designed to help government agencies build, manage and gain value from citizen science projects. Included in the memo are mandates for agencies to designate a citizen science liaison and list their public projects on a federal website.

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren noted multiple benefits of citizen science in his keynote:
“These innovative approaches can simultaneously enhance scientific research, address societal needs, provide hands on STEM learning and increase STEM literacy, and by allowing individuals to participate in efforts that transcend geographic and sectorial boundaries, citizen science can help create a sense of connectivity, community and ownership that you rarely get in traditional scientific activities.”

“Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, For the People, By the People” 
Watch a Video of the White House Citizen Science Forum (speakers at 14:24):
Holdren spoke to the new technologies facilitating the field of citizen science on an unprecedented scale, the very tools that enable ASC to gather such robust datasets from a worldwide stage. “We can harness this new technological infrastructure to advance both scientific discovery and the realization of policy objectives that will lead to better outcomes for all Americans.”
The forum was also a platform for several other announcements that will boost citizen science on a national scale:

  • National Science Foundation Director Dr. France Cordova announced that citizen science and crowdsourcing will be a priority for NSF in the coming fiscal year.
  • The Citizen Science Association and its partners announced plans to organize a Citizen Science Day in 2016.
  • Senators Chris Coons and Steve Daines introduced the Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill providing agencies authority to use citizen science, and setting aside appropriations for these efforts.

As Treinish says, these exciting announcements validate what we already know at ASC: “That our volunteers can collect extremely high quality data.”


Caroline Gleich and Carolyn Swertka record sample data for the ASC Microplastics Project in Little Cottonwood Creek, Utah. (Photo by Andrew Burr)

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