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Why Manage Data?

When data are well documented, you know how and where to look for information and the results you return will be what you expect. Accurate data are legally and scientifically defensible and may aid the agency by reducing litigation and appeals.

Managing Data as a Resource 

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.


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 data 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.

  • 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 Requires: 

The USGS Survey Manual Chapter SM 502.6 - Fundamental Science Practices: Scientific Data Management discusses the importance of data management:

"U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data represent corporate assets with potential value beyond any immediate research use and therefore need to be accounted for and properly managed throughout their lifecycle...By applying the elements in the lifecycle model, USGS scientists can ensure that data are discoverable, well described, and preserved for access and use beyond the life of research projects. The data lifecycle model also serves as a structure to help evaluate and improve the requirements and practices for managing USGS scientific data when necessary, and to identify areas in which new tools and standards are needed."