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USGS Trusted Digital Repositories (TDR)

The Research Libraries Group (RLG, now OCLC) defined a trusted digital repository as “one whose mission is to provide reliable, long-term access to managed digital resources to its customers, now and in the future.” (Refer to “Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities,” page i.)

The USGS has adopted the RLG’s definition as part of a coordinated effort to establish and promote robust storage and hosting options for the Bureau’s digital data and other digital information products.


Criteria for a USGS TDR

The criteria describe shared standards and goals for USGS systems that store, preserve, and make scientific data and resources accessible.


  • accept responsibility for the long-term maintenance of digital resources on behalf of its depositors and for the benefit of users;
  • be an organizational system that supports not only the long-term viability of the repository but also the digital information for which it has responsibility;
  • demonstrate fiscal responsibility and sustainability;
  • be designed in accordance with commonly accepted system conventions and standards to ensure the ongoing management, access, and security of materials deposited within it; and
  • establish methodologies for system evaluation that meet community expectations of trustworthiness.


Distinction Between a USGS TDR and an Acceptable Digital Repository

A USGS TDR has been internally certified in the Bureau through a rigorous panel review of questionnaire answers provided by a prospective Bureau repository or server manager. The lengthy criteria represent an internationally accepted measure for determining repository maturity and readiness for the status of “trusted digital repository.” The process (described below) requires prospective repositories to ensure that USGS data are preserved, made accessible, documented, and backed up in a manner that reflects international standards for repositories.

An acceptable digital repository is a system that the Bureau has approved as a location and release point for USGS science data and publications if a USGS TDR is not suitable or available (refer to “Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities”). For example, earthquake data are available from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), an acceptable digital repository containing seismic and other data of its kind for access and sharing.

The expectation is that internal Bureau systems currently deemed acceptable digital repositories will obtain, if suited, the status of USGS TDRs as the Bureau continues to evolve its data management and preservation capabilities.


Process for Establishing a USGS TDR

The process applies to USGS owned, publically facing computer systems serving data or publications. The USGS must ensure preservation of its publically facing digital scientific assets (data and publications) through trusted repositories in accordance with Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) requirements for ensuring the preservation of Federal Government digital assets. In response to these requirements, the Bureau has developed a robust process to certify USGS owned, publically facing computer systems serving data or publications as TDRs. This process is based on the internationally accepted “Data Seal of Approval and the World Data System” for certifying “Trustworthy Repositories” (refer to and is in accordance with the OSTP requirements.

The process involves completing a questionnaire based on a combination of requirements from the USGS Standards for Establishing Trusted Repositories for USGS Digital Assets and the Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements.

The questionnaire is to be completed by the product owner or asset manager in the USGS Science Center where the server resides and is submitted for evaluation by the USGS TDR Working Group (TDR WG). The TDR WG evaluates the responses in the questionnaire by using reviewer guidance provided by and determines if the USGS criteria have been met before granting approval as a USGS TDR. This approval is for a period of three years, after which the computer system must be reevaluated.


Certification of a USGS TDR

Trusted Digital Repository seal






Once a repository is approved as a USGS TDR, the seal is displayed on the TDR’s web landing page to confirm its certification as a USGS TDR.








Additional Information

Science Centers and other USGS entities interested in establishing a TDR should contact Natalie Latysh to request the questionnaire or for additional information.


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