By the Subcommittee on Global
19 June 1998
The overall purpose of these policy statements is to facilitate full and
open access and use with confidence, both now and in the future, of the
data and information that is used in and results from global change
assessment activities. These policies reflect the goals and policies of
the U.S. Global Change Research Program and incorporate federal laws,
directives, and regulations regarding the maintenance and dissemination of
data and information in the Federal Government. They are recommended for
all participants in the National Assessment Program, including federal,
state, local, tribal, foreign, educational, non-government organizations
and their private partners.
- The U.S. Global Change Research Program's
National Assessment Program requires a continuing commitment to the
establishment, maintenance, description, accessibility, and long-term
availability of high-quality, data and information.
- Full and open sharing of the full suite of
data and published information produced by the Assessment Program is a
fundamental objective. Data and information should be available without
restriction, on a non-discriminatory basis, for no more than the cost of
reproduction and distribution. Where possible, the access to the data
should be via WWW to keep the cost of delivery to a minimum and to allow
distribution to be as wide as possible.
- All data sets and published information
used in the National Assessment Program should be identified with a
citation; for data sets an indication of how the data may be accessed
should be provided.
- All data sets generated as part of the
National Assessment Program must be described and a quality assessment
provided. In addition, steps should be taken to assure their continuing
availability. Standards used for the descriptions of individual data sets
developed by the National Assessment Program should be compatible with at
least the minimum needs of the Global Change Master Directory. Spatial data set descriptions should also
be compatible with the Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata
of the Federal Geographic Data Committee. All such data set descriptions
should be made available for inclusion in the Global Change Master
- Organizations and individuals
participating in the Assessment Program should actively participate in its
Web page to share information and coordinate the Program's disparate
activities. The identifications of all the Program's published information
and data sets, as well as the Program's data set descriptions, should be
made accessible over the Internet and be compliant with the current
version of the ANSI Z39.50 search and retrieval standard.
AUTHORITIES AND REFERENCES
As reflected in the following authorities and references, the Executive
and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government both recognize the need
for federal agencies to assume an active role in providing information to
- Privacy Act of 1974 restricts the government's ability to
disseminate information that could invade the personal privacy of an
individual. Privacy Act data cannot be released without appropriate
- The Freedom of Information Reform Act (FOIA) of 1986
establishes what agencies must make available to the public in terms of
public information, agency rules, opinions, orders, records and
- OMB Circular No. A-16, Coordination of Surveying and Mapping
Activities, October 19, 1990, establishes coordination procedures
for federal agencies and describes the responsibilities with respect to
coordination of those federal surveying and mapping activities.
- Executive Office of the President, Data Management for Global
Change Research Policy Statements issued in July 1991 provided a set
of policy statements to facilitate full and open access to quality data
for global change research.
- Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992, requires that
unenhanced data from Landsat 7 and other government-funded and -owned
land remote sensing systems be made available to users at the cost of
fulfilling user requests and on a non-discriminatory basis.
- The White House Memorandum on the Administration of the Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) issued October 4, 1993, states that a
commitment to openness requires more than merely responding to requests
from the public. Each agency has a responsibility to distribute
information on its own initiative, and to enhance public access through
the use of electronic information systems.
- Executive Order 12862, Setting Customer Service Standards,
September 11, 1993, mandates easy accessibility of federal government
information and services.
- OMB Circular No. A-130, Management of Federal Information
Resources, June 25, 1993, states that every agency has a
responsibility to inform the public within the context of its mission.
This responsibility requires that agencies distribute information at the
agency's initiative, rather than merely responding when the public
- Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) of 1993
requirements are intended to improve federal program effectiveness and
public accountability by promoting a focus on results, service quality
and customer satisfaction.
- 44 United States Code Chapter 31 - Records Management by
Federal Agencies requires agencies to create and maintain documents
and provides the basis for public records and information.
- 44 United States Code Chapters 17 and 19 define the legal
requirements for providing information to the public through the Federal
Depository Library Program.
- Executive Order 12906, Coordinating Geographic Data
Acquisition and Access; The National Spatial Data Infrastructure,
April 11, 1994, requires each agency to document all new geospatial data
it collects or produces, either directly or indirectly, using the
developing FGDC standard, and to make that documentation electronically
- U.S. Environment and Natural Resource Data Access System
Guideline, July 6, 1995, requires all federal agencies participating
in environment and natural resources research to develop their data and
information search and access systems to have at least Internet
connectivity and be ANSI Z39.50 compliant.
- Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1980, as amended 1995,
requires agencies to provide for the dissemination of public information
on a timely basis, on equitable terms, and in a manner that promotes the
utility of the information to the public and makes effective use of
- Electronic Freedom of Information Act (EFOIA) of 1996
mandates that agencies make all reasonable efforts to provide
information available to requesters in the medium of their choice.
- OMB Bulletin 98-5, Establishment of Government Information
Locator Service (GILS), February 6, 1998, is designed to help the
public and agencies locate and access information electronically
throughout the U.S. government