Why Manage Your Data?
If your data source is well documented, you know how and where to look for your information and the results you return will be what you expect. In addition, accurate data are legally and scientifically defensible. Such data may aid the agency by reducing litigations and appeals.
Managing Data as a Resource
- Data are a lasting resource that the USGS collects and uses.
- The USGS cannot operate efficiently without good, solid, accurate, reliable, useful, and timely data.
- Taxpayers and USGS customers have a right to know the data that are used for the basis of decisionmaking.
- Good data management can eliminate redundancy and waste of taxpayers' money while providing high quality information for efficient program operations.
- Well-documented data are easily discoverable and enable better data integration.
- It's the law! Data management is required by legislation and Executive Orders.
As a permanent resource, the data USGS collect and use are vitally important. Our link with our cooperators and customers is the data we provide to them. Data are a key lasting resource that the USGS produces and uses.
The USGS's most valuable resource (its people) cannot operate without good, solid, accurate, reliable, useful, and timely data. Furthermore, taxpayers and USGS's customers have paid for and are entitled to know the factual basis for USGS decisionmaking (in other words, the data relied upon to make those decisions).
Data-management best practices attempt to define and document consistent standards and procedures. The goal is to eliminate waste and abuse of the taxpayers' money while providing the information resources needed for efficient program operations. We need to recognize our role as good stewards of data collected on behalf of the taxpayers.
Another advantage of good data management lies in data integration. Well-documented data that are easily accessed may be integrated more readily into an existing project or dataset, reducing redundant work and adding value.
Data Management Under the Law
Data management is required by legislation and Executive Orders, such as:
- Information Quality Act - USGS Guidelines (Section 515 of The Treasury & General Government Appropriations Act for FY 2001) allows the public to examine and challenge the data disseminated by the USGS and provides review procedures for those challenges.
- Clinger-Cohen Act (IT Management Reform Act) established the position of Chief Information Officer to oversee information quality and IT implementation. It mandates that agencies develop Enterprise-wide information architectures to improve business performance and data portability. See the USGS Information Technology Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2007-2011 [PDF]
- Privacy Act establishes a Code of Fair Information Practice that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by Federal agencies.
- Government Performance & Results Act is one of a series of laws designed to improve government project management. GPRA requires agencies to engage in project management tasks such as setting goals, measuring results, and reporting their progress. In order to comply with GPRA, agencies produce strategic plans, performance plans, and conduct gap analyses of projects.
- Computer Matching & Personal Privacy Act expands the Privacy Act guarantees to ensure that privacy violations do not occur when databases are combined or integrated.
- Government Paperwork Elimination Act requires that, when practicable, Federal agencies use electronic forms, electronic filing, and electronic signatures to conduct official business with the public.
- Paperwork Reduction Act provides the basis for managing information as a resource. It mandates that agencies take steps to improve their data quality and data sharing capabilities.
- Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a Federal law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. FOIA defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures, and grants exemptions to the statute. See also the USGS FOIA Electronic Reading Room.
- Executive Order 12906 (Geospatial Data) [PDF] directed the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to establish a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) to acquire, process, store, distribute, and improve utilization of geospatial data.
Follow good data management practices. It's the law!
What the U.S. Geological Survey Manual Says:
The USGS Manual Geology Discipline Research Records Schedule 432-1-S5 discusses the importance of managing data:
"Scientific research, the core business of the USGS GD, requires careful management of information. In the scientific method, the validity of scientific results depends on thorough documentation of underlying data and methods so that other scientists can freely examine, question, and experimentally replicate them, as appropriate. For this reason, GD must carefully manage not just the publications and databases that are its products, but also the data that are acquired in laboratories and field work, records of data processing and analysis, and communications with other scientists during the review process. These types of records are created daily as GD employees perform their tasks and duties."
- Chatfield, T., Selbach, R. February, 2011. Data Management for Data Stewards. Data Management Training Workshop. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).