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 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.

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