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USGS Trusted Digital Repositories (TDR)

Updated February 2024

A trusted digital repository (TDR) is defined as “one whose mission is to provide reliable, long-term access to managed digital resources to its customers, now and in the future.” The USGS has adopted this definition in its effort to establish and promote robust storage and hosting options for the Bureau’s scientific digital data and other digital information products. Refer to the Online Computer Library Center report (“Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities,” page i), for more information.


Criteria for a USGS TDR

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

  • 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 and demonstrates not only the long-term fiscal sustainability of the repository but also the digital information for which it has responsibility;
  • be designed in accordance with commonly accepted system conventions and standards to ensure the ongoing management, access, and security of deposited materials; 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, an acceptable digital repository containing seismic and other associated data for access and sharing. The expectation is that internal Bureau systems currently deemed acceptable digital repositories will obtain, if suited, the status of USGS TDR as systems evolve their data management and preservation capabilities. 


Process for Establishing a USGS TDR

The process applies to USGS owned, publicly facing computer systems serving data and publications. The USGS must ensure preservation of its publicly 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, publicly facing computer systems serving data or publications as TDRs. This process is based on the internationally accepted “CoreTrustSeal” for certifying “Trustworthy Repositories” and is in accordance with the OSTP requirements. 

The process involves completing a questionnaire about a system’s qualifications to become a TRD 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 Fundamental Science Practices Advisory Council’s (FSPAC) Scientific Data Guidance Subcommittee. This FSPAC subcommittee evaluates the responses in the questionnaire by using reviewer guidance provided by the CoreTrustSeal’s Data Seal of Approval requirements in determining if the USGS criteria have been met before granting approval of a Bureau system as a USGS TDR. This approval is for a period of 3 years, after which the system must be reevaluated. 


Certification of a USGS TDR

Trusted Digital Repository seal












Once a repository is approved as a USGS TDR, the seal above is displayed on the TDR web landing page to confirm its certification as a USGS TDR. Usage of TDR certification symbol is in the Public Domain.


Additional Information

Science Centers and other in the Bureau interested in establishing a USGS TDR should contact the FSPAC for questions, additional guidance, or help in determining if a requested repository meets the requirements described herein.

For a list of repositories, including those approved as USGS TDRs, refer to Acceptable Digital Repositories for USGS Scientific Publications and Data.


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