Executive Summary

The United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established to observe, understand, and predict global change, and to make its results available for use in policy matters. Fundamental to the understanding and prediction of global change and its associated human impacts is the timely availability, in useful forms, of the data and information required to conduct the research, develop the models, and make the assessments required. Much of these data and information originates in many separate programs of agencies of the Federal Government.

Activities of the USGCRP are coordinated by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Research (CENR). Because data and information are of fundamental importance to the USGCRP, the Committee on Earth and Environmental Sciences, which has been superseded by the CENR, published the U.S. Global Change Data and Information Management Program Plan in 1992 in which the participating Federal agencies committed to work with each other, with academia, and with the international community to make it as easy as possible for researchers and others to access and use global change data and information. The program plan was based on guidance received during a number of years from the user community and especially from the Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data of the National Academy of Sciences. This document builds on that program plan to define the implementation of a Global Change Data and Information System (GCDIS).

The GCDIS is the set of individual agency data and information systems supplemented by a minimal amount of crosscutting new infrastructure, and made interoperable by use of standards, common approaches, technology sharing, and data policy coordination. The GCDIS user community extends from global change researchers to other researchers, policymakers, educators, private industry, and private citizens. Through the GCDIS, this user community will be able to learn what data and information are available, have the key holdings available in useful forms with ready access, and be assured of their quality and continued availability. This U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Implementation Plan documents the specific interagency agreements and arrangements established to implement the GCDIS.

The individual agency components of the GCDIS are funded through their respective budgets. There will be neither a lead agency nor a separately funded budget for the GCDIS. Interagency GCDIS implementation coordination will be through the Interagency Working Group on Data Management for Global Change (IWGDMGC), serving as the panel for the USGCRP Working Group on Data and Information Management. Where commonality or interoperability is essential for the GCDIS, the agencies will make decisions in concert. Under this implementation plan, all data and information functional activities are the responsibility of individual agencies. The global change data and information management program adds the following multiagency capabilities:

Essential to these capabilities are the adoption and implementation of data and information management standards, adherence to common data and information policies governing user access, and the development and implementation of additional data and information system functionality necessary to provide interoperability of the multiple agency systems. The following principles guide the implementation.

Implementation Drivers

Funding Assumptions

Implementation Approach

Each of the participating agencies will play a role appropriate to its agency mission, consistent with the funds available to it. Brief descriptions of each agency's role follow. Each agency will implement the GCDIS at its own pace.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will identify data and information among its holdings that are of value to the global research program and make these metadata available through the standard locator approach defined by the IWGDMGC.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) will provide user access to global National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and DOD environmental data and information of value to the USGCRP through the interoperable NOAA Data and Information System; it also will provide access to the census data and information.

The Department of Defense (DOD) will make unclassified and unrestricted data and information and limited metadata available to appropriate U.S. national archives; agencies receiving DOD data products will assume the responsibility for GCDIS functions (i.e., archive, directory, distribution, network, and user- support functions).

The Department of Energy (DOE) will provide access to data and information from its programs through a set of individual data and information systems focused on specific data bases to which interoperable functionality will be added.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) will provide access to data and information from its programs and other sources for which the DOI is custodian through standard locator technology among data and information systems of DOI bureaus. GCDIS interoperability beyond the locator level initially will be provided at the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center and may be added to other systems.

The Department of State will maintain and coordinate links with intergovernmental organizations and United Nations technical agencies having programs relevant to the GCDIS. A high-priority objective is to promote wide adoption of a policy of full and open sharing of global change data in multilateral forums, as well as in bilateral agreements.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will initially provide its data and information produced under the USGCRP through other participating agencies and then will develop a unified electronic data and information system to make other relevant data and information from agency activities available.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will make all the data and information from its Mission to Planet Earth available on an interoperable basis through the Earth Observing System Data and Information System and will seek funding to develop, as needed, the interoperable functionality for implementation by all participating agencies. NASA will provide also for the data and information archiving and management, where needed, of socioeconomic data and information through its Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, and the Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Environmental Biology, will provide access to archived data and information through an existing data system to which interoperability will be added. An electronic data system for data and information from the LTER sites will be developed. Researchers funded by the NSF will be required to make available all global- change-relevant data and information developed in the performance of publishable research through one of the participating data systems.

GCDIS participation will be broadened to include other agencies with data and information needed for the USGCRP. To encourage such participation, the GCDIS is planned as a system that an agency can join with only a modest commitment. Later, the agency can work toward a fuller implementation of the information service objectives of the GCDIS. While the desirable level of enhanced participation will involve provision by the agency of the full suite of metadata appropriate for their data and information, the minimal requirement for agency participation will be

Because of the evolving nature of the USGCRP, of which the IWGDMGC is an integral part, this implementation plan will be updated as necessary to reflect program changes and accomplishments. With these updates, the implementation plan will provide the basis for individual agency implementation plans, some of which have already been initiated. By the activities included in this implementation plan, the resources of the agencies, the power of new technologies, and the capabilities of users and the international community will be brought to bear on providing the global change data and information needed by users to understand global processes critical to human well-being on Earth.