Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Responsibilities of Science Center Directors for Managing Scientific Data

August 2018

This document provides an overview of Science Center Directors’ responsibilities for managing U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientific data and suggests ways of delegating these responsibilities.

In accordance with USGS Fundamental Science Practices (FSP) requirements, Science Center Directors have specific responsibilities for managing USGS scientific data (refer to Survey Manual (SM) chapter 502.6, section 5.C). These responsibilities include managing data resources, appointing data managers, and ensuring final data from data-collection and research activities, as well as research data from scholarly publications, are released free to the public. The Public Access Plan requires this for work completed after October 1, 2016.

In summary, Science Center compliance with FSP data management requirements includes:

  • Data Management Plans (DMPs) are included in project work plans and are reviewed, approved, and retained; the DMPs serve as a record of the data management activities throughout the lifecycle of the data.
  • Data ownership and management responsibilities are clearly written within the DMPs, especially for reimbursable projects conducted with partners.
  • Data and metadata are reviewed, and the reviews and reconciliation are documented.
  • Scientific data are secured and managed to prevent loss or corruption.
  • Data are released at the appropriate time, in open and machine-readable formats.
  • Metadata records for data that are to be released are submitted to the USGS Science Data Catalog (SDC).
  • Long-term preservation and accessibility of data are assured beyond the end of projects, with consideration of necessary access restrictions. The USGS maintains the authoritative copy of the data.
  • Adequate time and funds are planned and allocated for qualified staff to address data management requirements.


Center Data Management Roles and Responsibilities

The following four roles are delineated by coherent sets of duties to assign to one or multiple employees. A summary chart is provided below, which also includes the responsibilities of research projects and Science Center Directors.


(1) Oversee DMPs and data management during projects

The responsibility of this role is to coordinate Science Center compliance with requirements found in SM 502.6 – Fundamental Science Practices: Scientific Data Management and SM 502.7 – Fundamental Science Practices: Metadata for USGS Scientific Information Products Including Data. Compliance requires that Center research teams include appropriate expertise to address technical data and metadata quality. The employee in this role coordinates the development and review of DMPs as part of every project work plan and maintains procedures for keeping these plans as research records and updating the DMPs to reflect the actual research activities.  The employee also advises the project staff, who manage data while the data are in use by projects, for example, by aiding with production of formal metadata records or establishing data-sharing agreements. This role might also assist research teams in complying with these policies by managing support services, such as providing a backup system for research data.


(2) Oversee data approval and release processes

The responsibility of this role is to coordinate Science Center compliance with SM 502.8 – Fundamental Science Practices: Review and Approval of Scientific Data for Release. This designated employee advises the Science Center Director on readiness of data products for approval. In particular, the employee will oversee use of the Information Product Data System (IPDS) to track the progress of data products through the stages of the FSP process and verify compliance. This role might oversee the work of designated data and metadata reviewers or serve as the authority on the Science Center’s data and metadata quality and completeness standards. This role might also provide guidance to projects for complying with specific Science Center or Mission Area standards or processes for data release, such as those pertaining to the National Water Information System.


(3) Ensure long-term preservation

The responsibility of this role is ensuring Science Center compliance with SM 502.9 – Fundamental Science Practices: Preservation Requirements for Digital Scientific Data. This requires the designated employee to apply documented processes and procedures in long-term management of the data. Preservation requirements for USGS scientific data include tracking the location and status of these data and might also include overseeing the use of data repositories outside the Science Center, for example, ScienceBase. The employee assigned to this role collaborates with the data producers and the USGS Records Officer to ensure the appropriate records management requirements for the Science Center data are met.


(4) Ensure public access to the Center’s data

The responsibility of this role is to oversee public access to data, consistent with the USGS Public Access Plan. The employee oversees the release of data consistent with open access standards, as required at the time of publication or at the end of the research project; assignment of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) to the data approved for release and their use in metadata records; and submission of metadata records to the SDC. After data are released, this employee is responsible for maintaining the Science Center’s metadata records in the SDC to ensure that contact information and online links remain current and that the records continue to provide sufficient information for the data to be discovered, evaluated, and used. This role should also include maintaining the accuracy of the location URLs for the DOIs, sometimes in coordination with a designated repository. The person assigned to this role collaborates with employees assigned the other three roles to ensure compliance with Federal Records Management and USGS Public Access Plan requirements for data preservation, DMPs, and use of the FSP data approval and release process.


Responsibilities at a Glance

The following chart summarizes the roles defined above.

R=Responsible   A=Accountable   C=Consulted   I=Informed*


PDF Version  Note: use this version when printing a hard copy of the tabulated formatted information.

  Science Center Data Management Responsibilities
Actions to be Completed Science Center Director Data Management role Approval and Release role Long-term Preservation role Public Access role Research Teams
Provide funds, staff, and governance R -- -- -- -- --
Write and update DMPs A C -- -- I R
Establish partner data responsibilities A C I I I R
Preserve data during project A C -- -- -- R
Write metadata A C -- -- -- R
Release approved data when required A I I I C R
Document review and approve the data release in IPDS R -- C -- -- I
Preserve DMPs A R -- -- I --
Submit metadata to SDC A -- -- -- R --
Preserve data after project ends A -- -- R I --
Update metadata after project ends A -- -- I R --

*The matrix uses the RACI model ( to designate responsibilities:

  • R stands for Responsible — the employee who will do the work.
  • A stands for Accountable — the employee who approves the work and ensures that it is completed.
  • C stands for Consulted — employees who provide advice, assistance, or agreement before the step is completed.
  • I stands for Informed — employees who must be told after the step is completed.


Additional Guidance

Questions about this guidance can also be directed to the FSP Advisory Committee (FSPAC) at


« Return to OSQI Procedures and Guidelines