FIGURE 5-1 The data management life cycle, including decision points. Data and associated metadata are brought to the attention of data stewards, at which point a decision is made either to discard the data and metadata or to integrate them into the archive and access system. As described in Chapter 4, data stewards work with users to evaluate the data over time, leading to additional knowledge about the data. This knowledge might include fixable problems with the data or scientific findings that add to the metadata. If improvements are possible, they should be applied, at which point the archiving, evaluation, and improvement cycle begins again. If the problems are not fixable, or if the data are determined to be no longer useful, the data may be discarded in accordance with the guidelines described in this chapter.

specific, leaving data managers with considerable flexibility, but also little guidance, for determining which data sets to archive. Based on this committee’s review of current data management practices at NOAA, it appears that most archiving decisions are made in a deliberate manner and with a concerted effort to meet user needs. There have also been some preliminary, sporadic attempts to involve users more directly and to improve communication with other agencies. However, the decision-making process is largely ad hoc from an enterprise-level perspective, and stakeholders are not engaged in a systematic way. The lack of a complete, publicly available inventory of all federal environmental data holdings and a formalized, inclusive process for making archival decisions not



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