Phase 1: Preparation and Planning

Programmatic preparations and plans are critical in the first phase of SDI implementation. A first step is the appointment of key leaders for envisioning, establishing, and carrying out the vision for an effective SDI. One notable position is that of the SDI program director, who will need to report to the USGS Directorate level for such an agency-wide effort. The core team taking on the challenge of initially scoping and envisioning an SDI will need to consist of talented and skilled professionals that understand the value and purpose of an SDI and are capable of carrying out the vision through effective project planning and management. It may be necessary to attract outside professionals through financial incentives to complement the SDI talent already at the USGS. The work of the core team will include reviewing similar SDIs—such as those of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the British Geological Survey (BGS)—for best practices and lessons learned at a higher level of detail than those already outlined in this report; determining and defining SDI system requirements on the basis of the six science directions of the USGS Science Strategy and user needs of other agencies, local governments, academe, and the public; determining the organizational structure for the SDI; and identifying goals, establishing timeframes and milestones, and developing performance metrics. Once the initial planning is complete, it will be important to announce a general outline for implementing the SDI program because communication and outreach will play a decisive role in the success of the program.

Phase 2: Design, Development, and Testing

The second phase would entail designing, developing, and testing the SDI program. One of the first steps to undertake in designing the SDI is to identify and define standards that are specific to the USGS mission. Once the standards are determined, the next steps to consider are process identification and development and software development. The former identifies common and documented processes that can enable the SDI to function smoothly across the USGS, and the latter establishes tools for the acquisition, discovery, management, recording, archiving, and sharing of data. With standards, processes, and software in place for an SDI prototype, a training development program would be needed to allow staff to become acquainted with the SDI prototype. The training program will be crucial for providing technical training and support and for building organizational support and buy-in at all levels. After the prototype has been introduced, it will be beneficial to deploy a pilot program on a small scale in the USGS to test how well the pilot program works and to identify and rectify glitches and incorporate these improvements into the prototype and education efforts.

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