Geoscience databases should be transferred, but not otherwise altered, on a periodic basis to new generations of reliable storage media.
A federal interagency coordination and policy group should be established to provide direction and support for a comprehensive data and information infrastructure for the sciences. Such a group would provide direction for long-term retention of geoscience data, among its other activities. The group would report to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and have representation from NARA, NOAA, NASA, the other relevant federal agencies, and the scientific community.
One of the major functions of this group would be the establishment of an electronic, interactive master directory for the physical sciences, including the geosciences. The master directory should be broadly accessible through the federal government, including NARA. It should contain high-level metadata relating to geoscience data sets and provide pointers to more detailed information.
Metadata and other documentation, appropriate and adequate for primary users (and secondary users whenever feasible), should accompany every geoscience data set that is to be archived, no matter where the data set resides.
NARA should have on its staff information specialists sufficient to effectively interface with the science agencies and the user community.
NOAA, NASA, and the other federal science agencies should take the view that the geoscience data they collect are likely to have long-term value, and adequate provisions should be made for their effective management and use decades later. The panel wishes to emphasize that the science agencies should keep NARA fully informed about the databases that will be archived, and that the agencies should maintain active liaisons with NARA.
The panel gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Julie Esanu, Alice Killian, and Paul Uhlir of the National Research Council staff in the preparation of this report, as well as the information provided at its meetings by the following individuals: Kenneth Thibodeau and John Dwyer, NARA; Helen Wood, NOAA/NESDIS; Donald Collins, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Herbert Meyers, National Geophysical Data Center; William Draeger, Daniel Cavanaugh, and Thomas Yorke, U.S. Geological Survey; Katrin Douglass, Southern California Earthquake Center Data Center; and Roger Barry, Claire Henson, and Ronald Weaver, National Snow and Ice Data Center.
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