Data Management: Preservation
Preservation involves actions and procedures to keep data for some period of time and/or to set data aside for future use, and includes data archiving and/or data submission to a data repository. A primary goal for the USGS is to preserve well-organized and documented datasets that support research interpretations that can be re-used by others; all research publications should be supported by associated, accessible datasets. Data must be disposed of in accordance with a written policy that conforms to the requirements of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Correct and prompt disposal of outdated information may reduce the Bureau's risk in some FOIA requests or legal actions, by demonstrating strict conformance to written policy and eliminating incorrect, outdated, or irrelevant information from the record.
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Archive vs. Repository: Is There a Difference?
In the field of data management, the terms "archive" and "repository" often are used interchangeably. Within the Federal government, however, the term "archive" is specific to the mission and activities of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Only NARA, or a Federal entity officially delegated by NARA for the long-term curation of specific products, should be referred to as an "archive." The USGS Earth Resources Observations System (EROS) Data Center is one of the few government repositories officially recognized by NARA as an archive. Any similar Federal entity not receiving official NARA designation should be referred to as a "repository."
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Requires:
Effective October 1, 2016 the USGS Survey Manual chapter SM 502.9 Fundamental Science Practices: Preservation Requirements for Digital Scientific Data discusses requirements and procedures to ensure the preservation of all USGS digital scientific data and associated metadata.
SM 502.9 further specifies, all scientific data collected or created as a result of USGS funding must be preserved. Preservation and responsible parties must be addressed in the projectís data management plan. Data must be preserved in accordance with USGS records disposition and the Federal Records Act 36 CFR 1220.14. The USGS will retain an authoritative or original copy of all digital data and associated metadata for which it is responsible in digital repositories approved by the USGS.
The USGS Manual Chapter 432-1-S1 - USGS General Records Disposition Schedule, May 2009 discusses the required use and benefits of the General Records Disposition Schedule:
"By using the USGS GRDS, bureau employees will be able to effectively and efficiently manage agency records regardless of personnel or organizational changes. In addition, implementation of consistent records management practices will ensure:
The USGS Manual Chapter 432-1-S3 - Biological Resources Discipline Mission-Specific Records Schedule covers the importance of records documentation:
"Goal: Documentation of the actions of Federal officials means records that enable them to explain past decisions, form future policy, and be accountable for consequences. Documentation of the national experience means records of importance for evaluating the effects of Federal actions on the nation and for understanding its history, science, and culture, including the man-made and natural environment."
The USGS Manual Chapter 432-1-S3 - Biological Resources Discipline Mission-Specific Records Schedule addresses the responsibility of properly and safely maintaining records:
"Maintenance: While files are being stored locally, there is a responsibility to ensure the safety, and to prevent the damage or loss of, these files. Consideration shall be given to providing storage facilities that are fire and flood proof, safe from insect and other vermin damage, environmentally controlled, and under the management of a responsible party with a system for tracking files that are loaned out. The maintenance of electronic records - ensuring that they remain readable and are authenticated - is also the responsibility of the Science Center, as long as they own or maintain the records."
The USGS Manual Chapter 432-1-S5 - Geology Discipline Research Records Schedule discusses electronic records:
"The same rules for record retention and disposal apply to electronic records. This means the USGS is responsible for ensuring that all electronic records, regardless of format, are readable throughout their retention period."