NGDC staff members are given great latitude in what data to acquire, and they are most likely to seek data with which they are familiar.
Funding limitations require the center to be opportunistic about what data are acquired or rescued (i.e., mission relevance and available funding appear to be the primary criteria for acquiring data; see Box 2.1).
Principal investigator requirements to deposit data in some disciplines are commonly not enforced by funding agencies (e.g., National Science Foundation [NSF], National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], Department of Defense). As a result many important research programs do not contribute data regularly to NGDC.
NGDC has established a number of effective partnerships for acquiring data from other parts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The fact that the center is taking on more responsibility for archiving and distributing gravity and geodetic data, for example, attests to its ability to perform these functions well. However, NGDC has not had equal success with the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) or with data collection programs outside NOAA. For instance, NESDIS has not assigned responsibility for the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) space environment dataset to NGDC, even though staff expertise in developing and distributing such products would ensure better continuity between the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and NPOESS products, enabling them to be used for studies spanning the two satellite eras. Moreover, some communities are considering whether to archive all their data at NGDC. For example, a recent workshop sponsored by the NSF and the Office of Naval Research recommended the establishment of a distributed system of discipline-specific archives, rather than a central repository for marine geology and geophysics data.1 NGDC will have to convince organizations that hold relevant data that they are best handled by NGDC and should eventually be archived at the center.
The “national” in NGDC implies that the center is a primary place to find a wide range of geophysical data. To be an effective national center NGDC need not have comprehensive holdings, but it should provide comprehensive access to geophysical data on its Web site by pointing to organizations that hold complementary data. Such organizations include the seismic reflection archive at the University of Texas; GLORIA sidescan sonar images and interpretive geographic information system layers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); offshore seismic data at the Minerals Manage-