5
Regional Centers: A Model for the Future

In this chapter, the committee highlights some examples of partnerships and consortia that have been successful in preserving and making accessible geoscience data and collections. The committee then weighs the pros and cons of various repository arrangements, including the roles of the public and private sector, and puts forth a model for dealing with the growing volume of valuable geoscience data and collections that may be lost in the immediate future. The model is followed by the committee’s best estimate of costs involved.1 The model presented here is one the committee believes will offer maximum likelihood of blending economies of scale (i.e., large enough to house enough geoscience data and collections to make visiting them worthwhile) with regional interests that foster partnerships and consortia across a variety of scales. This chapter also presents a complementary strategy for the federal government, recognizing that the federal government should be taking similar steps to alleviate its own space problems in parallel with the plan the committee has outlined for the non-federal sector. The overall strategy for managing geoscience data and collections in the United States is rounded out at the end of the chapter by a discussion of incentives that could promote preservation.

PARTNERSHIPS AND CONSORTIA

Partnerships and consortia work when all participants benefit by achieving common goals. Organizations establish partnerships for varied reasons, but most often to conserve, stretch, or leverage the resources of time, space, and personnel. Organizations share responsibility, gain efficiency and economy, contribute complementary skills or unique attributes, spread risk, and derive benefit through these cooperative agreements. Partnerships also diminish competition for limited resources, thus avoiding fragmented efforts and duplicated data. In establishing partnerships or consortia, memoranda of understanding (MOUs) document the ground rules of the relationship and, among federal and state agencies, facilitate the transfer of funds (see for example Sidebar 3-5).

Two such partnerships are noteworthy for their successful organization and management, and have been described in chapter 3. The Ocean Drilling Program is managed by the non-profit Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (JOI), a consortium of 14 oceanographic institutions in the United States (see Sidebar 3-3 and Figure 4-1). Through a series of focused scientific and technical advisory boards, procedures have been established for all aspects of acquisition, curation, sampling, access, and publication of the wealth of marine geologic data collected. The committee was impressed with the distributed core-repository model of ODP and the oversight the scientific community provided.

Administrators of several well-managed geoscience collections have learned that user-defined groups or committees of interest are particularly qualified to define policy concerning access and sampling of specific data types, and to advise on accession and deaccession of materials. This is exemplified at the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL), which represents a successful partnership jointly sponsored by the NSF and the USGS, and managed with additional NSF funds through the University of New Hampshire (see Sidebar 2-11).

On the personnel side, partnerships with volunteers greatly enhance the capability of institutions operating with limited financial resources. Almost all museums, for example, depend heavily on volunteers to staff basic operations, including curation of collections. Training these volunteers, however, can be time-consuming, so many museums

1  

It was beyond the scope of the committee’s task to perform a full market analysis of these options. The cost estimates in this chapter are intended to give an overall impression of the types and approximate costs involved in maintaining geoscience data and collections and making them publicly available.



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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril 5 Regional Centers: A Model for the Future In this chapter, the committee highlights some examples of partnerships and consortia that have been successful in preserving and making accessible geoscience data and collections. The committee then weighs the pros and cons of various repository arrangements, including the roles of the public and private sector, and puts forth a model for dealing with the growing volume of valuable geoscience data and collections that may be lost in the immediate future. The model is followed by the committee’s best estimate of costs involved.1 The model presented here is one the committee believes will offer maximum likelihood of blending economies of scale (i.e., large enough to house enough geoscience data and collections to make visiting them worthwhile) with regional interests that foster partnerships and consortia across a variety of scales. This chapter also presents a complementary strategy for the federal government, recognizing that the federal government should be taking similar steps to alleviate its own space problems in parallel with the plan the committee has outlined for the non-federal sector. The overall strategy for managing geoscience data and collections in the United States is rounded out at the end of the chapter by a discussion of incentives that could promote preservation. PARTNERSHIPS AND CONSORTIA Partnerships and consortia work when all participants benefit by achieving common goals. Organizations establish partnerships for varied reasons, but most often to conserve, stretch, or leverage the resources of time, space, and personnel. Organizations share responsibility, gain efficiency and economy, contribute complementary skills or unique attributes, spread risk, and derive benefit through these cooperative agreements. Partnerships also diminish competition for limited resources, thus avoiding fragmented efforts and duplicated data. In establishing partnerships or consortia, memoranda of understanding (MOUs) document the ground rules of the relationship and, among federal and state agencies, facilitate the transfer of funds (see for example Sidebar 3-5). Two such partnerships are noteworthy for their successful organization and management, and have been described in chapter 3. The Ocean Drilling Program is managed by the non-profit Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (JOI), a consortium of 14 oceanographic institutions in the United States (see Sidebar 3-3 and Figure 4-1). Through a series of focused scientific and technical advisory boards, procedures have been established for all aspects of acquisition, curation, sampling, access, and publication of the wealth of marine geologic data collected. The committee was impressed with the distributed core-repository model of ODP and the oversight the scientific community provided. Administrators of several well-managed geoscience collections have learned that user-defined groups or committees of interest are particularly qualified to define policy concerning access and sampling of specific data types, and to advise on accession and deaccession of materials. This is exemplified at the National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL), which represents a successful partnership jointly sponsored by the NSF and the USGS, and managed with additional NSF funds through the University of New Hampshire (see Sidebar 2-11). On the personnel side, partnerships with volunteers greatly enhance the capability of institutions operating with limited financial resources. Almost all museums, for example, depend heavily on volunteers to staff basic operations, including curation of collections. Training these volunteers, however, can be time-consuming, so many museums 1   It was beyond the scope of the committee’s task to perform a full market analysis of these options. The cost estimates in this chapter are intended to give an overall impression of the types and approximate costs involved in maintaining geoscience data and collections and making them publicly available.

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril have regularly scheduled training programs that qualify volunteers to work in their collections. One of the most extensive such programs is operated at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (formerly the Denver Museum of Natural History). Since 1990, the Museum’s Certification in Paleontology program has trained more than 150 people in fossil curation and preparation. Many of the program’s graduates become expert in various phases of paleontological collections work (see Johnson, 2001). The foremost responsibility of any curation facility is maintaining the collection. Additionally, a curation facility should demonstrate experience in managing large volumes of data or samples through their various stages of curation. It should have established credibility as a stable institution with a track record for providing the user with the requested service. Finally, it should possess the financial means for long-term survival, adequate upkeep of and access to the collections, and future expansion. The Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, and C&M Storage, Inc. are examples of two organizations that seemingly fulfill these criteria in the public and the private sector, respectively (see Sidebars 3-4 and 3-1, respectively). REPOSITORY ALTERNATIVES: IS ONE TOO FEW? ARE 100 TOO MANY? Options In this section, we discuss the pros and cons of some of the alternative options for repository size and operation. Table 5-1 summarizes some of the more relevant factors of repository scale. These features are discussed in more detail TABLE 5-1 Qualitative Assessment of Repository Options Scale Accessa Clientele Supportb Data Varietyc Economy of Scaled Spacee Timef Single, national C C A A F A Multiple (several dozen to 100+), sub-regional A A C F A C Multiple, regional B A A B A B A = Feature is considered a positive. B = Feature is considered to be more positive than negative. C = Feature is considered to be more negative than positive. F = Feature is considered a negative. aAs used here, access represents assumptions regarding ease and cost of travel to a location for users. bSupport by clientele includes user-community participation and support for a given facility. cData variety assumes that different types of geoscience data and collections held in the same place would be beneficial, and that larger facilities hold more and more kinds of data and collections. dEconomy of scale assumes that a single larger facility is more economical to operate per volume than a number of smaller facilities that would be required to manage an equivalent volume of geoscience data and collections. eSpace is the space required to house geoscience data and collections. fTime is represented in two aspects. First, the time it takes to locate facilities that hold geoscience data and collections of direct interest to the project. Second, the time it takes to visit the facility or facilities. below, using comparison of trade-offs between features as a means of assessment. The committee used one basic assumption in considering the pros and cons of repository scale. They assumed that any sort of consortium (i.e., any combination of government, private, and public) would be better than any single entity alone. Consortia provide the kinds of partnership strengths that are missing from a private-only or government-only approach. Consortia also allow broader user-group participation. In addition, consortia allow more flexible funding options and provide the ability to leverage funds from several sectors rather than relying on just one. Space versus Economy of Scale The issues of space and economy of scale are, in the committee’s opinion, two of the most critical issues to consider when assessing repository size. Certainly large repositories benefit from an economy of scale—that is, fewer administrative costs per item are incurred to oversee and operate a large repository than several smaller repositories that would hold the same amount of material. At some point, however, the sheer magnitude of geoscience data and collections can work against the economy of a single facility. Costs can run quite high for larger and larger buildings, or more and more smaller, interlinked buildings simply because of the architectural constraints of increasing building size and the land-access constraints of increasing numbers of smaller buildings on the same site. The amount of geoscience data and collections that would have to be amassed in a single place is enormous. Even by conservative estimates (see Table 2-1), the amount currently available for donation

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril would require a single facility at least 20 times the size of the USGS Core Research Center in Lakewood (Sidebar 3-2). A facility this size could resolve only an immediate problem (current geoscience data and collections) and would have to be twice its original size in fewer than 15 years assuming even a modest holdings growth rate of 5 percent annually. In other words, it does not take long for a single facility to transcend from utilitarian to onerous. In contrast, numerous (several dozen to 100 or more) small, sub-regional facilities do not suffer from the space problem of a single, large facility. If space is an issue, another facility can be built or used somewhere else in the region. But what happens if several of these facilities are scattered across a wide area? Although space is much less an issue in this instance, the economy of scale is lost—especially with regard to administrative and managerial costs. Admittedly, some of these costs can be offset by leveraging time or money in local partnerships (with universities, state geological surveys, local geological societies, etc.), but the effectiveness of these arrangements runs the gamut from very effective to completely ineffective, depending on the commitment of the individuals and organizations involved. The likelihood of ineffective support for the long term increases with increasing volunteerism and part-time administrative duties. Long-term support commonly is mediated on the basis of an individual or a few individuals who believe that the use of their time (often with little or no financial reward) is a worthwhile price to pay for conservation of the materials. There is no guarantee that such individual or institutional commitments will continue into the future. The committee believes that multiple, regional facilities would accomplish economy of scale without spreading resources too thinly. Multiple, regional facilities also require both an institutional and individual commitment on a scale that precludes operation with only volunteers and part-time staff. In addition, multiple, regional facilities would allow common-sense, user-defined distribution of repositories without the requirement that all materials reside in a single place, irrespective of interest or volume, as might be the case for a single, national facility. The committee assumes that multiple, regional repositories would evolve over time to serve smaller or larger regions, depending on the interests of the user communities, volume of geoscience data and collections, and support within the region for multiple facilities. Consequently, one of the key features of the multiple, regional facilities approach advocated here is that it allows participation by a larger number of existing facilities than would a single, national repository. Many of these existing facilities already have a fine reputation among their constituent communities and would add both credibility and economy. Clientele Support and Data Variety Clientele support is a critical component of the success of any repository of geoscience data and collections and can be considered from two perspectives: clientele’s support for the repository, and the facility’s support for clientele. In general, local clientele will directly support local facilities because of easy access, familiarity, and service. A single, large national repository is less likely to garner this type of support unless the holdings are relatively small, yet complete and highly specialized for a specialized community with broad geographic distribution (e.g., Sidebar 2-11). In this regard, support by clientele is somewhat analogous to local library support versus support for the Library of Congress. The former relies much more heavily on the user community (bottom-up approach), whereas the latter relies much more heavily on government funds (top-down approach). A repository’s support for clientele typically is relationship-based. In other words, users of a repository become familiar with the personnel, equipment, and holdings, and thus feel that the repository and its staff support them. Most users believe that smaller facilities allow them the opportunity to develop these sorts of personal relationships far more easily than do larger facilities. Smaller facilities work well for users with specific areas of interest or particular topics of focus, especially if the user can visit only a few of these facilities. The trade-off here is in data variety. In general, larger facilities have more (both numbers and variety) and broader (geographic, stratigraphic, and variety) types of geoscience data and collections than do smaller facilities. The Smithsonian Institution has a wide variety of geoscience data and collections, along with a wide variety of biological, anthropological, and other data and collections. Such a venue offers much potential exchange of ideas and interdisciplinary collaboration. These are, of course, generalities and not absolutes—some current single, national repositories are highly focused, while some sub-regional repositories are quite varied in their holdings (e.g., NICL and some state geological surveys, respectively). Regional facilities would offer the feeling of local support that clientele like, with the variety and size of holdings. Moreover, regional facilities may provide a mechanism to divide holdings logically among already existing geoscience data and collections repositories with already established specializations in the area. For instance, if there were a Western Canada Region, one logically could make the case for repositing oil company cores and cuttings in Calgary, Alberta, mining cores at a facility in British Columbia, and paleontology collections at Drumheller, Alberta.2 2   Other facilities in a so-called Western Canada Region may have equal claim to any of these specialty areas. This example is presented as an illustration only and is not meant to imply any recommendation of any type by the committee.

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril Access versus Time As used here, access represents assumptions regarding users’ ease and cost of travel to a location. For instance, the majority of potential users of geoscience data and collections likely would have to travel long distances to use a single national repository. Distributing many repositories through numerous small sub-regions would lessen that burden. Similar arguments apply to the financial burden of transporting new acquisitions to (or borrowing materials from) a national repository versus regional repositories. Time is represented in two aspects. First, it is represented in the time it takes to locate facilities that hold geoscience data and collections of direct interest to the project. Fewer facilities mean less time spent finding the one(s) that hold relevant geoscience data and collections, whereas more facilities typically mean more time required to track down the appropriate geoscience data and collections.3 Second, time is represented in how long it takes to visit the facility or facilities. In some instances, all relevant material will be held at a local facility. However, the likelihood of this decreases with increasing number of facilities within any given region. The committee believes that regional centers represent the best balance of the time versus access issues. Regional centers allow greatest ease of access with most efficient use of time, both to locate holdings and to use the materials once onsite. Private, Public, or a Combination of the Two? The committee visited both private and public geoscience data and repositories (see list in Preface). Private repositories generally fall into two categories: those that hold physical items and those that hold electronic data. Private repositories that hold physical items (cores, cuttings, paper and fiche well logs) typically either hold them in propriety for a fee (e.g., C&M Storage Inc.), or amass paper, fiche, and other physical records that already are public, but have not otherwise been assembled conveniently into one place (e.g., Denver Earth Research Library), for which users typically pay either a fee or monthly membership/subscription for use. Private repositories that hold electronic data typically either acquire publicly available data in non-electronic form, then convert them to electronic data, or purchase or otherwise acquire electronic data, which they own. These companies also allow access to data either on a fee or subscription basis. Privately operated facilities in the latter two categories add value to the geoscience data and collections by collecting them in one place (that is, doing all the “leg-work” for a potential user) or by editing and processing the data (i.e., adding value through information and interpretation) or some combination of the two. In other words, they make money by adding value and selling access to this added value. The versions of these entities handling non-digital (paper-based) data (e.g., DERL, see Sidebar 3-9) typically are operated as non-profit entities. Those entities that hold physical data in propriety are acting as contractors for companies (mostly oil companies) that want access to their geoscience data and collections, but do not have the facilities to keep them onsite. In this situation, access to the geoscience data and collections cannot be purchased directly from the holding company, which is acting as a subcontractor for the actual owners of the material. Companies that operate in this mode make money by retaining confidentiality and privacy of the geoscience data and collections, along with added services such as delivery, pick-up, shipping, and repackaging of the samples for their clients. In contrast to private companies, public entities typically operate with public subsidies (local, state, or federal) and make their holdings publicly available. Such institutions commonly hold geoscience data and collections as part of their charter (e.g., the BEG at the University of Texas, see Sidebar 3-4), in association with some other function, such as a museum or institution of higher learning, or some combination of both. Rarely do these public institutions receive additional funds beyond their annual allowances for anything other than beyond-normal services (e.g., cutting a core for examination by an outside visitor). Private entities have the advantage of being able to charge for services and recover costs for all operational expenses and, in some cases, even for profit. However, private entities are subject to the ups and downs of a market-driven economy, which can have a destabilizing effect. Public entities have the advantage of being more stable in the long run than most private ones, but they have the disadvantage of usually operating with minimal support and few options to recover costs, much less make additional money for data and collections support. The committee believes that a combination of public and private entities, operating as a consortium, offers the best combination of stability and fiscal opportunity. THE REGIONAL CENTERS CONCEPT The committee found that successful preservation and research centers generally served relatively focused communities of interest, most often (with a few notable exceptions) geographically defined (for example, the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, Sidebar 3-4). Such regional centers are large enough to achieve economies of scale, but small enough to encourage local interest and support. Distributing the centers would permit sponsors to nurture regional networks of dedicated volunteers, data and collections donors, and financial benefactors. As the focal point of a regional consortium, each center would draw upon existing expertise and infrastructure, such as state geo- 3   This assumption is not met when all the repositories in an area share data and are collectively searchable at one time using a metadata search tool.

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril logical surveys, museums, universities, and for-profit (private) enterprises.4 Each center also would encourage adoption of uniform standards, coordinate outreach efforts, manage effective use of existing space and addition of new facilities, and facilitate cooperative projects and sharing of resources and expertise among the centers and consortia members. Because regional centers serve a national interest, they warrant several forms of federal support. A key component would be to facilitate establishment of new centers on a competitive, cost-sharing basis. The committee’s investigations indicate that it is generally easier to acquire support to help establish the centers than to operate them on a long-term basis. Consequently, providing federal funds for those activities for which it is most difficult to get continuing sponsor support (e.g., cataloging, curation, operations, maintenance) is a critical component of the support needed for establishment and long-term operation of the regional centers. The innovative model used in the Shell Oil donation to the Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas (see Sidebar 2-2), could greatly reduce the level of continuing federal support required. In this instance, the donor contributed a sizable endowment to cover recurring operating expenses. A DOE grant permitted the endowment to grow to the point where its proceeds will cover projected costs in perpetuity. The costs of cataloging, packaging, and delivery of newly collected materials, consistent with established data standards and best curation practices, as part of the collection acquisition, would be necessary components of any successful regional center model. Regional centers should be able to set appropriate charges, consistent with community interests and ability to pay, for selected services (if they wish to do so). In addition to reimbursement for the services, these charges could be used for long-term growth and expansion of capabilities and facilities. By way of illustration, a service charge could be applied when busy clients would rather pay someone else to examine a set of samples and compile a report, rather than spend time doing it themselves. Such selected service charges should be market-based and revenues should return directly to the center’s budget.5 Several institutions supporting oil and gas exploration cover substantial portions of annual expenses by subscriptions and charges for specific services. While the regional centers may offset some of their operational costs with these fees, they are unlikely to become entirely self-sufficient. Furthermore, some repository staff expressed concern that user fees would discourage use. Consequently, to hold some of these user fees to a minimum, all the centers are expected to require some level of government funding, although the amount may vary. For example, centers with less prosperous user communities (such as those in education and research) or centers with fewer users may require a higher level of support. The committee became convinced that a uniting theme of the successful centers is direct involvement of an external science-advisory board. Such boards, composed primarily of users of the facility, help establish priorities for geoscience data and collections acquisition, in addition to facilitating maximum utilization of the data and collections by the widest possible range of clientele.6 Given the success of analogous centers with NSF input, and NSF’s support of external science-advisory boards, the committee was convinced that NSF is an appropriate federal agency to award federal funds for the proposed regional centers. Following the NSF model, such funds would be awarded on a competitive basis, with preference given to consortia with an active, external science-advisory board and broad participation from government, academia, and the private sector. Three such centers (one each in the Gulf Coast, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Coast regions) are needed immediately. These three areas currently have the most critical need for preserving geoscience data and collections. First, the volume of physical data in these areas is overwhelming because of the long history of resource extraction (see for example Table 5-2). In addition, many of the risk factors outlined in Table 2-4 occur in these regions, including shifting priorities of those holding data, and industry mergers. These regions also contain a wide range of clientele, both private and public. Finally, these regions contain many examples of good practices and successes on which regional consortia can be built. The committee does not intend to limit regional centers to these three regions, nor does it intend to limit any of these regions to one center only. However, one center established in each of these three regions would provide immediate, critically needed relief for the growing problem of geoscience data and collections loss. Cataloging will be an enormous but essential task for all regional centers. It was apparent to the committee from site visits to the National Museum of Natural History, Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas, and USGS Core Research Center that cataloging is extremely important, yet time-consuming, and that it requires a great amount of staff effort. In addition, adequate computer software and hardware required for online availability of the catalog information can be costly to the average institution that maintains geoscience data and collections. 4   The committee anticipates that existing repositories likely would participate in regional consortia though additions to existing facilities. Participation of new entities is not precluded, however. 5   In the committee’s opinion, government policies that direct revenues to a general fund discourage local initiative and responsiveness to user needs. 6   The science-advisory board, while predominantly composed of members of the user community, would benefit from expertise in database management issues, including digital cataloging.

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril TABLE 5-2 Percentage of Total U.S. Oil Production, 1945–1975 and 1976–2000, as a Proxy for Volume of Geoscience Data and Collections in the Gulf Coast, Pacific Coast, and Rocky Mountain Regions   Average percentage of U.S. Crude Oil Production Region and State 1945–1975 1975–2000 Gulf   Alabama 0.19 0.64 Arkansas 1.14 0.48 Kansas 4.08 1.96 Mississippi 1.77 1.02 Louisiana 16.50 17.42 Oklahoma 7.38 4.32 Texas 39.14 27.91 Pacific   Alaska 0.67 19.40 California 13.17 13.02 Rocky Mountain   Colorado 1.30 1.06 Montana 0.89 0.83 New Mexico 3.34 2.66 Utah 0.64 0.95 Wyoming 4.03 3.70 Total percentage 94.05 95.44 SOURCE: DeGolyer and MacNaughton, 2001. Much must be accomplished quickly in the area of cataloging to maximize the effects of newly available information about existing geoscience data and collections. The magnitude of this problem cannot be overstated—the geoscience community, in particular, and the nation in general has inadequate information about the amount and condition of current geoscience data and collections (see chapter 4). Cataloging is the first step to assessing the quality of documentation of (and hence whether to keep or discard) geoscience data and collections currently in the nation’s museums, institutions, agencies, and repositories. Cataloging of other collections also should be encouraged—for those entities wishing to join consortia, as well as simply to increase knowledge and use of other collections outside the consortia. The committee believes that awards for cataloging should be distributed on a competitive basis, using general priorities for preservation as outlined in Table 2-5 as a guide to need. The Institute of Museum and Library Services has, since 1996, distributed on a competitive basis federal funds for improving access to information about collections at museums and libraries (Sidebar 4-4), and could be an appropriate administrator of federal funds for cataloging geoscience data and collections. Costs for Regional Centers and Cataloging The realities of preserving geoscience data and collections implies incurring costs if the issues outlined in this report are to be addressed—geoscience data and collections occupy space, they cost money to curate and manage, and they are critical sources of information. Although not specifically charged with providing cost estimates to implement the broader strategies proposed herein, the committee believes that it is in the best interests of those who might want to follow the recommendations to have some general estimates for the minimal costs required to do this effectively. The tables below show the committee’s reasoning and underlying assumptions about potential costs of one implementation strategy. Given the estimate that sufficient data are at risk of loss to fill more than 20 times the volume of the USGS Core Research Center in Lakewood, Colorado, the committee was convinced that solving the problem requires new repository space rather than solely increasing the efficiency with which existing space is utilized.7 Certainly, some portion of initial funding could (where practical) support more efficient utilization of existing space. Additionally, more than one new repository might be needed within a single regional consortium. However, in the interests of simplicity, the following calculations assess the cost of a single, new facility in each region. Obviously costs can vary considerably, but the ranges provided should cover most of the possibilities irrespective of the specific circumstances under which they might be applied. Although offered as guidance and estimates only, the committee is united in its belief that this is the appropriate range of costs needed to address the critical task of preserving important geoscience data and collections. The committee foresees start-up costs of $35 million to $50 million per center.8 The lower end of the range assumes a center of similar magnitude to the BEG (see Sidebar 3-4), while the higher end is for a facility that is 50 percent larger than the BEG. The costs could be spread over several years for initial investments and rescue of highest-priority materials threatened with imminent loss (Table 5-3). The federal government has an important stake in the establishment of these repositories. Therefore it should provide for a major share of their costs. The committee’s cost estimates assume 7   By “new repository space,” the committee recognizes that existing repositories likely would participate in regional consortia though additions to existing facilities. “New repository space” neither implies nor precludes new buildings in new places operated by completely different organizations, it simply acknowledges the critical lack of space in existing facilities without new construction. 8   The cost estimates are based on discussions with Ronald Broadhead, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, George Bush and Douglas Ratcliff, Bureau of Economic Geology, Robert Shafer, C&M Storage, Inc., and Guenter Wellman, Alberta Core Research Centre, Canada. All cost estimates are in 2001 dollars.

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril TABLE 5-3 Estimated Cost Range to Establish a Regional Centera   Low High Volume and Space Assumptions:   Core 600,000 boxes 1,900,000 boxes Cuttings 800,000 boxes 1,200,000 boxes Immediate space use 060,000 sq. ft. 01,90,000 sq. ft. New acquisitions 060,000 sq. ft. 01 90,000 sq. ft. Total building space 120,000 sq. ft. 1,180,000 sq. ft. Capital Costs:   Construction costsb $ 7,000,000 $ 9,000,000 Land acquisitionc $ 50,000 $ 75,000 Shelvingd $ 2,000,000 $ 3,000,000 Equipment; furnituree $ 1,000,000 $ 1,500,000 Total Capital Costs $10,050,000 $13,575,000 Moving Costs:   Packing; inventoryingf $21,000,000 $31,500,000 Shippingg $ 1,400,000 $ 2,100,000 Total Moving Costs $22,400,000 $33,600,000 Other Set-up Costs: $ 2,000,000 $ 3,000,000 Total Start-up Costs: $34,450,000 $50,175,000 aCosts based on information provided by Ronald Broadhead, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources; George Bush and Douglas Ratcliff, Bureau of Economic Geology; Jimmy Denton, BP Amoco, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Robert Shafer, C&M Storage Inc.; and Guenter Wellmann, Core Research Centre, Alberta, Canada 2001. bConstruction costs based on $50/ft2. cLand acquisition costs probably vary more with urban versus rural settings than with regions. dShelving costs estimated at 1.4 boxes of material per dollar of shelving. eIncludes lab equipment, office equipment, core-retrieval equipment. fIncludes labor, cataloging, container costs, other supplies related to packing and labeling. gEstimated at $1 per box of material shipped 500 miles. that federal funding will be primarily for constructing storage for physical specimens; however, some centers may require relatively more funds for geoscience data and collections rescue. Capital improvements would be required from time to time to accommodate additional holdings. Start-up Costs Capital Expenses Facilities are a significant part of the cost to establish regional geoscience research centers, and their costs vary widely, due in part to differences in land costs and, importantly, to differences in climate and the degree of protection required for materials to be preserved, and to the support services available for users. Labor (construction) costs also differ widely and contribute substantially to capital expense variability. For simplicity, the committee bases its estimates on building anew, and recognizes that costs could be less if a center were to build off existing infrastructure. Moving Expenses (Rescuing Physical Specimens) Rescue of physical specimens is costly and labor intensive. Holdings must be inventoried, culled (where necessary), and cataloged—all labor-intensive efforts. Boxes must be packed onto pallets, loaded into shipping containers, shipped, unloaded, unpacked, and shelved. Cataloging costs vary with the unit of material to be cataloged—one well may yield hundreds of boxes of core, but for other materials, one box may contain many specimens that require individual catalog entries. Costs for inventorying and physical handling vary widely, from less than $10 per box to as much as $30 per box (Robert Shafer, C&M Storage Inc., Schulenberg, Texas, personal communication, 2001; Susan Longacre, ChevronTexaco, Houston, Texas, personal communication, 2001). In general, the volumes of material moved are thousands to several hundred thousands of boxes, and the $10-per-box estimate is more appropriate. Shipping costs also vary; however, the committee estimates a cost of about $1 per box for 500 miles. Fragile and sensitive materials, or those that require special handling (e.g., samples that must be refrigerated to preserve delicate organic compounds) likely would cost more than the estimates used by the committee. Surprisingly, many of the same expenses are incurred to dispose of geoscience data and collections. Disposal does not require cataloging and usually does not involve special handling, but disposal does require inventorying, testing for hazardous content, packing, loading, shipping, and unloading, in addition to disposal fees. Recurring Costs Operating Costs Recurring costs of research center operation include facilities operations and maintenance, data-center operations, and support for the wide range of acquisition, curation, preparation, outreach, user support, and active research operations described above. The committee estimates that operating budgets of $3 million to $5 million per year are needed for each center (see Table 5-4). Because of the federal government’s important stake in the effective operation of these centers, it should provide for a major share of these costs. Moreover, federal support would provide effective leverage of support from other sectors. These remaining recurring costs should come from local consortia, service charges, and other sources.

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril TABLE 5-4 Estimated Range of Recurring Costs for Each of the Three Proposed Centers Recurring Costs (Annual) Low High Staffa $ 500,000 $1,000,000 Facilitiesb $ 75,000 $ 85,000 Travel; computer centerc $ 100,000 $ 150,000 New acquisitionsd $2,240,000 $3,360,000 Total per year $2,915,000 $4,595,000 aStaffing costs are for 4-8 total full-time employees at approximately $125,000/person. bFacilities costs include utilities, operations and maintenance (not insurance or supplies). cCosts include staff travel to evaluate potential donations and partial shipping expenses for loans. dNew acquisitions costs include packing, shipping an average of 500 miles, cataloging, necessary re-boxing (SOURCE Robert Shafer, C&M Storage, Inc., personal communication, 2001; Susan Longacre, ChevronTexaco, personal communication, 2001; Jimmy Denton, BP Amoco, personal communication, 2001). New Acquisitions One of the more striking revelations was the inability of those institutions that constructed new geoscience data and collections facilities to anticipate adequately the amount of time required to fill the space. For example, new facilities at the state geological surveys of Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio, constructed in 1990, 2000, and 2001, respectively, now have <5, 10, and 16 percent space available, respectively (see Table 2-3a). Although acquisitions likely will be sporadic, volume undoubtedly will be high. Summary of Recurring Costs Table 5-4 presents the committee’s estimate of recurring costs for each of the three proposed centers. Costs: Independent Cataloging Support Cataloging is an assumed component of the staff duties at each of the regional centers. It is also a component of the committee’s overall strategy for managing geoscience data across the nation. Major advances in cataloging could be achieved if approximately $1 million were available to each of 5 to 10 institutions annually on a competitive basis. Access Charges Several of the repositories reviewed by the committee charge for services and in some cases recoup a sizable portion of their operating revenues in this way. Table 5-5 presents a sample of charges at several active institutions. TABLE 5-5 Representative Service Charges Type of Service Amount Subscription access   Hard-copy holdings $100-$1,150/year Digital publications Vary widely, depending on scope, detail, size of using organization, etc. Data purchase/reproduction   Electronic catalogs $40-$1,000 on CD-ROM Reports:   Electronic Unlimited downloads to CD-ROMs at $1,000 and up Paper, microfiche $2/report to $25,000/series Catalog access Free to $0.15/screen Physical access to specimens   Box retrieval from storage $1.50-$10/box; no additional charge for some storage services Facility use for examination $30-$150/day   SOURCE: Fee schedules for NGDC Marine Geology and Geophysics Center, Alberta Core Research Centre, and the Bureau of Economic Geology Core Research Center, University of Texas. ADDITIONAL ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT Federal agencies responsible for geoscience data and collections in the United States should lead the way by setting examples of good practices in preservation of and access to geoscience data and collections. Such examples serve to promote the public good, increase the visibility of the federal side in a leadership role, and increase the likelihood of federal partnerships with the private sector. While it exists, coordination among federal agencies that collect or archive geoscience data and collections could be improved. Such improved coordination would optimize sharing of business practices and consumer use of related data collected by various agencies or establishing priorities across agencies so that limited funds can be used to the best overall effect. Chapters 1 through 4 contain examples that highlight the benefits of strong coordination, and the consequences of poor coordination. Adoption of consistent and good practices, along with a clarification of roles, would, at a minimum, increase efficiencies for federal agencies and the user community, comparable in some respects to the goals of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NRC, 1993) and the Geospatial One-Stop initiatives.9 In addition, such collabo- 9   These two initiatives are useful models in several respects. First, they seek to render data from many federal, state, and local agencies both convenient to access and easy to use together. Second, they must address diverse missions, user communities, producer concerns, data definitions, and data formats. Information providers may themselves produce the data, or they may obtain it from external sources. Coordination of U.S. geoscience data and collections will involve all of these issues.

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril TABLE 5-6 Proposed Roles of a Federal Geoscience Data and Collections Coordinating Committee and Federal External Science-Advisory Boards Roles of the Federal Geoscience Data and Collections Coordinating Committee Roles of the Federal External Science-Advisory Boards • Determine how to coordinate and streamline federal efforts in preservation of, access to, and use of geoscience data and collections • Monitor conformance to agreed-upon practices • Monitor and facilitate progress of cataloging efforts across the federal government • Monitor implementation of electronic reporting for all exploration, exploitation, and research reports currently submitted to the federal government • Facilitate and coordinate Internet access to all federal geoscience data • Advise on priorities for federal holdings, with respect to preservation, cataloging, and access across and within federal and quasi-federal agencies • Advise on establishing consistent practices across agencies with respect to preservation of and access to geoscience data and collections acquired from public lands or using federal funds • Coordinate with science advisory boards of regional consortia ration would render the whole of government holdings more complete, enhance the value of individual components, and permit a significantly (and, eventually, measurable) increased benefit to diverse communities. A federal geoscience data and collections coordinating committee would address the problem. Such a committee could be established and funded through the Office of Management and Budget, and would oversee coordination and increased efficiency among a range of federal agencies. This federal geoscience data and collections coordination committee should be broad-based, reaching between and within all federal and quasi-federal agencies that are involved in geoscience research or geoscience data and collections acquisition. The committee’s charge should focus on coordination of federal agencies’ roles with regard to geoscience data and collections preservation, access, and use. Parallel with its coordination and streamlining activities, the federal geoscience coordinating committee should establish federal external science advisory boards to advise on priorities for federal holdings, with respect to preservation, cataloging, and access across and within federal and quasi-federal agencies. Previous NRC reports (e.g., NRC, 2001) already have noted the value for federal agencies of having direct external community involvement and advice in order to help set internal priorities for funding, monitoring, and research efforts. Examples of existing federal external science-advisory boards that deal with collections are those within the operating structures of the National Ice Core Laboratory (coordinated jointly by the USGS and NSF; see Sidebar 2-11) and the Smithsonian Institution (Smithsonian Institution, 2001). The federal external science-advisory boards would focus on holdings within the federal government, but would coordinate with the science advisory boards of the regional geoscience data and collection centers. The federal external science-advisory boards, which could be discipline-based, would advise on establishment of consistent practices across agencies with respect to preservation of and access to geoscience data and collections acquired from public lands or using federal funds. In addition, the federal external science-advisory boards would advise on what geoscience data and collections should fall within the purview of various federal agencies. Monitoring of conformance to agreed-upon practices, as a question of how, rather than what, would reside within the charge of the federal geoscience data and collections coordinating committee. Table 5-6 summarizes the proposed roles of the federal coordinating committee and the external science advisory boards. The federal geoscience data and collections coordinating committee would have other responsibilities related to how the federal effort should be streamlined, coordinated, and improved. One such responsibility would be monitoring implementation of electronic reporting for all exploration, exploitation, and research reports currently submitted to the federal government. The committee believes that electronic reporting is a necessary step to minimize the burden of cataloging newly collected geologic samples, while maximizing their potential use. As noted earlier, cataloging, providing electronic access to, and advertising the availability of existing geoscience data and collections will be immensely challenging. The National Science Foundation’s FastLane system is an example of agency effort to coordinate reporting practices and make those results available to the community of geoscience professionals as well as to other potential users. Examples of other programs of electronic reporting exist at the provincial level in Canada and Australia, and in the state of Wyoming. The cataloging effort recommended for non-federal institutional holdings is of equal importance for future use of federal geoscience data and collections holdings. Therefore, the federal geoscience data and collections coordinating committee should monitor and facilitate progress of cataloging efforts across the federal government. Here, the federal geoscience data and collections coordinating committee would work closely with the federal external science-advisory boards to determine which cataloging efforts warrant

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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril the highest priorities (using the general priorities identified in Table 2-5, supplemented with data-specific advice on potential future applications). In addition, the federal geoscience data and collections coordinating committee should facilitate and coordinate Internet access to all federal geoscience data. This would include (but not be limited to) reports and catalogs of holdings, location and availability of similar geoscience data and collections, and contact information (where appropriate) for onsite use of geoscience data and collections. Success of this effort will be enhanced by coordinated adoption of digital data standards to improve interoperability of interagency information. Regular review of the roles of the National Science Foundation and Institute of Museum and Library Services as distributors of funds for non-federal cataloging and repository efforts is essential. If existing external review mechanisms (e.g., committees of visitors; external steering committees) are inadequate for this task, new ones should be devised. Federal Involvement in Regional Consortia In addition to coordination between federal external science-advisory boards and those of the regional centers, the committee anticipates that federal agencies would participate (where appropriate) as partners in the regional consortia proposed earlier in this chapter. With large volumes of potentially useful geoscience data and collections at risk within federal government agencies (see for example chapter 2, and Table 2-3b), new federal geoscience repositories also are warranted. Start-up and recurring costs for such repositories would parallel costs outlined in Tables 5-3 and 5-4, respectively. The committee envisages funding for federal and non-federal entities converging within the regional consortia in instances of federal participation in such consortia. For example, arrangements already exist between state and federal agencies in Alaska (Sidebar 3-5) and Colorado (Sidebar 3-2). Priorities for federal agency support should follow closely those recommended for the regional centers: need for such a repository within the agency; broad or active involvement within and among various federal geoscience agencies (e.g., BLM, DOE, EPA, NASA, NOAA, NSF, USACE, USGS, USNM); and active participation of federal external science-advisory boards. INCENTIVES Incentives for preservation of geoscience data and collections would encourage preservation efforts. Such incentives would encourage private donations of geoscience data and collections, by providing credit for shipping costs and fundamental recognition that fossils, rock, sediment, and ice are unique and have donation value (see chapter 2). When such data and collections are used to enhance recovery of resources, federal support for these incentives has the potential to pay for itself many times over (DOE, 2002). An incentive for the research community is to require that geoscience data and collections amassed during the course of federally funded research (funded by agencies such as DOD, DOE, EPA, NASA, NSF, USGS, USNRC) be appropriately archived and cataloged and made accessible to the public (see for example USGCRP, 1991). Federal support for research should be, in general, contingent upon the public availability of these geoscience data and collections within a reasonable time. The geoscience community itself must take more responsibility for preservation and use of geoscience data and collections. Although the importance of these data for research and interpretation are broadly accepted, adequate curation and long-term care for them take time, are comparatively unrewarded, and consequently fall through the cracks. The geoscience community must do more than just acknowledge the importance of geoscience data and collections—it should establish incentives, rewards, and requirements for their care and accessibility. The geoscience community should adopt standards for citation of geoscience data and collections used in scientific and other publications. Citation histories lend enhanced credibility and importance to well-organized, often-used data and collections. In addition, institutions and professional societies should establish (where appropriate) awards and other forms of recognition for outstanding contributors to the preservation and accessibility of geoscience data and collections.