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2. Implementation Coordination

Implementing the GCDIS elements will be a cooperative effort by the agencies involved, with individual agencies being responsible for managing their own implementation efforts within a framework of coordination by the agencies. The individual agency components of the program are funded through their respective budgets. There will be no lead agency or separately funded budget for program coordination. Program leadership for GCDIS implementation will be provided at two levels. At the highest level, program advocacy, evaluation and problem resolution will continue to be the domain of the Interagency Working Group on Data Management for Global Change (IWGDMGC), serving as the USGCRP Data and Information Working Group (see Figure 1). On a day-to-day basis, program monitoring and coordination with the research components of the USGCRP will be provided by the associate scientist for data located in the USGCRP program office.

Implementation of the GCDIS will be embedded in each agency's implementation plan or upgrade of its own data and information system. This GCDIS implementation plan will provide an overall view of agency efforts, showing how they fit within the overall program implementation. Individual agency implementation plans will contain specific details for the agency elements involved in GCDIS, including linkage with international programs and institutions. GCDIS implementation must be consistent with USGCRP research priorities as reflected in agency plans and with the required services that flow from those plans.

Closely synchronized implementation across the agencies is neither required nor practical. Agency missions vary, and not all agencies will be active in all of the GCDIS functional areas at the same time. Each agency may retain as much autonomy as is necessary. Where commonality or interoperability is essential for the GCDIS, decisions affecting the content or access system functionality will be taken by the IWGDMGC agencies in concert. The GCDIS will be open and extensibile. This chapter describes the management and coordination of the program.

Program Management

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 prescribed that the activities of the USGCRP were to be coordinated by the CEES. The CEES has been superseded by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Research (CENR). The data and information management component of the USGCRP reports to the CENR Global Change Research Subcommittee through the Working Group on Observations and Data Management (see Figure 1). The global change data and information management program is coordinated at the working level by a standing group of agency representatives, one from each participating agency, a chairperson, and outside experts as needed. This group, the IWGDMGC, is responsible for program implementation and represents the agencies in budget coordination and planning for the data and information component of the USGCRP.

Policies relevant to global change data and information will be reflected in individual agency implementation plans and collectively in the GCDIS implementation plan. In particular, the principles endorsed in the Data Management for Global Change Research Policy Statements (Table 1) provide a high-level framework for GCDIS implementation. Agencies participating in the USGCRP will develop corresponding internal policies and procedures that conform to the Data Policy Statements. The interagency coordination for GCDIS implementation will ensure that the collective efforts of the agencies result in the fulfillment of national policy requirements. For example, U.S. data policy requires that there should be at least one explicitly designated archive for each and every global change data parameter and that a clearinghouse should be established to prevent the purging and loss of important data sets. This plan provides for these national capabilities as well as others specified by the data policy statements (see chapters 4 and 5).

As currently established by the CENR, guidance, review, and oversight of the USGCRP is provided by the NAS Board on Global Change and other relevant committees of the Academy. The Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data, working with the Board on Global Change, serves this function for the data and information management component of the USGCRP.

GCDIS Operations

The GCDIS is an evolving distributed data and information management system that will initially consist of interconnected, loosely organized agency data and information centers. As the GCDIS evolves, the system will improve its connectivity, performance, and responsiveness to user requirements.

No one agency is in charge of the GCDIS. The GCDIS operates by participating agencies providing data content and data access services that have been identified, recommended, and coordinated through the IWGDMGC. The IWGDMGC is responsible for GCDIS implementation. This responsibility is carried out by IWGDMGC agency contacts, subgroups of the IWGDMGC, and the IWGDMGC Executive Secretary. The Associate Scientist for Data also provides coordination with the IWGDMGC in GCDIS requirements and implementation activities. Figure 2 shows the GCDIS implementation organization, and the organization that will be in place during initial operations of the GCDIS. Descriptions of specific data and information centers begin on page 83.

Users will be able to interact directly with the GCDIS at various levels of sophistication, ranging from a simple phone call to a data center to online search, browse, and network data set transfers. Initially, a user services group or contact at agency data centers, information centers, and libraries will provide assistance, guidance, and information. The extent of user services will vary within and between agencies, and will be improved in response to user needs and current technology.

For GCDIS-related content and access matters at the interagency level, users will also be able to contact the appropriate IWGDMGC agency representative, subgroup chairs, and agency contact members, or the IWGDMGC Executive Secretary concerning GCDIS problems, information, and comments. In addition, there will be a bulletin board system for users to get the latest information about the GCDIS, make suggestions, and request special interagency products and services.

GCDIS Coordination

The IWGDMGC, through agency representatives, maintains the GCDIS implementation plan and coordinates data and information implementation activities of participating agencies. This coordination includes tracking the progress of individual agency implementation efforts - each managed within the agency - against the overall implementation plan. The IWGDMGC identifies problems and recommends actions to facilitate implementation.

The USGCRP has been organized around four interconnected streams of activity: observations and data management, integrative modeling and prediction, process research, and assessments. These activity streams, coupled with a supporting stream focused on communicating the findings to the public and to students, continue to provide a sound basis for carrying out an encompassing scientific program and are suited to strengthening the coupling to evaluation, assessment, and policy analysis. This functional architecture is depicted in Figure 1, which illustrates the interconnections among these streams of activity and the growing links to policy development.

Within this structure, the participating USGCRP agencies continue to maintain control of their budgets. The CENR, through the Subcommittee on Global Change Research (SGCR), provides the interagency coordination, implementation, management, and oversight, including the interagency review of programmatic needs and budgets.

This coordination mechanism will facilitate interagency cooperation and will help ensure completeness of coverage of USGCRP high- priority needs, including links to crucial data and information from outside the USGCRP programs. To help this effort, full-time, collocated associate scientists for each of the areas (observations and data management, process research, integrative modeling and prediction, and assessments) have been assigned to the Office of the USGCRP.

IWGDMGC GCDIS coordination will focus on two primary areas: data content and data access. Data content issues address data and information content, metadata, documentation, user coordination and related areas (Chapter 4). A Data Content Subgroup will be responsible for coordinating these aspects of the GCDIS. Data access issues address how users gain access to the data and information of the GCDIS (Chapter 5). Data access issues will be coordinated by the combined efforts of the Catalog, Networks, Standards, and Libraries Subgroups.

Successful implementation of the GCDIS includes appropriate use of standards for both the enabling technology and applications-specific content. Wherever possible, there will be full coordination with existing standards bodies, and implementation of existing standards will be used. A Standards Subgroup will work on both data content and access issues and will recommend appropriate standards for adoption by the IWGDMGC.

Direct coordination among agencies is essential for achieving program goals. For example, those agencies upgrading or developing their own data and information systems as their components of the GCDIS will coordinate the technical details of the design and implementation of their systems within the framework provided by this implementation plan. Agencies are encouraged to invite other agencies engaged in parallel efforts to participate, where practical, in specific design choices or implementation decisions to help realize the interoperability required for the GCDIS.

Each agency will attempt to incorporate GCDIS recommendations into its own data and information system implementation whenever possible, given cost and schedule constraints. When an agency must delay or forgo implementation of a key GCDIS feature, it will notify the IWGDMGC as soon as possible.

External Coordination

Liaison will also be maintained with government organizations at the State, Federal, and international levels, including some nongovernmental organizations. These liaisons will be maintained through the IWGDMGC, often through cross-representation by IWGDMGC member agencies in these external organizations. The IWGDMGC will conduct a thorough review of such organizations and will establish formal links with those organizations determined to have significant related purposes and activities.

It should be noted that versions of the U.S. global change data policy have been formally adopted, in whole or in part, by several international organizations. While not binding on the member countries, this represents an initial step toward establishing an international norm and the facilitation of GCDIS international linkages and coordination. Representative international organizations whose work has already been identified as being important to the GCDIS are identified in Chapter 7.

In addition, there are a number of other programs outside the USGCRP, evolving in parallel with the GCDIS, that can make important contributions to the broad information needs of researchers, policy analysts, and others attempting to understand the many aspects of our environment. Since users are best served through seamless access, the GCDIS will adopt or support interfaces that accommodate the information access approaches being developed in such overlapping national and international initiatives as the U.S. National Information Infrastructure, which includes the Government Information Locator Service and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.

Policy Coordination

There are aspects of data and information management that impinge on policies beyond the immediate USGCRP, but are addressed within the Federal structure for information and technology policy coordination. Examples include private enterprise - government interactions, the HPCC initiative, scientific and technical information policy, education initiatives, and the National Information Infrastructure (NII). In these areas, the IWGDMGC will coordinate policy issues through the structures established in the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology. As one example of such policy issues, the increase in public access capability creates an issue involving the confidentiality of data and information. Social science data, at the finest level of analysis, deal with individuals. Most social science researchers protect the identity of individuals, and even groups, as a fundamental part of their research. Even nations restrict the availability of social and economic data and information or distort it substantially for political purposes. Mere aggregation will not necessarily solve the problem, since individual-level data may be needed for integrated assessments. USGCRP agencies and departments may need congressional action to provide the protection required for the confidential elements of the GCDIS.

This problem is not limited to the social sciences. Biological data and information, such as forest inventory data and agricultural statistical data, sometimes have economic and social (privacy) issues associated with their use. In the process of associating field data with pixels in satellite images, for example, sensitive location and ownership information may be revealed. The Federal mechanisms to protect these data, while making them available for USGCRP analyses, do not yet exist. They must be developed both technically and politically as a priority item. This will require action by the executive and legislative branches of the Government and will probably be tested in the judicial. Until adequate safeguards are in place, both biological and socioeconomic data will be limited to publishable data and information and thus compromise the ability of the USGCRP to meet its objectives.

User Coordination

The GCDIS will be structured to make certain that users can provide their insights and opinions at all levels of the system. At the level of the IWGDMGC, such input will come from multiple sources. These include

At the agency level of the GCDIS, the IWGDMGC will continue to establish general policies for user coordination. The program plan and this implementation plan are examples of this coordination process. Within this process, agencies (or their designees) providing GCDIS access will have their own user-advisory structure. These agency structures will remain the responsibility of the particular agency and will include data center advisory committees, project and program advisory committees, and a multitude of types of interactions with individuals - both those who supply and those who use GCDIS data and information.

Although the GCDIS initially is designed to meet the critical needs of the global change research program, new categories of users will be accessing the system as it evolves. Several factors will contribute to broadening interest in the GCDIS. For example, the links to contributing data and information from the natural resources and human dimensions areas; the increased focus on data and information supporting global change assessments; and the availability of tools to assist users in identifying, accessing, and combining data and information in meaningful ways will open doors to new classes of users. These will include users such as students below college level, policymakers, and environmental interest groups who find the current system too limited in scope or too difficult to use.

These new users will bring fresh viewpoints that will be invaluable to the continued development and measured success of the GCDIS and that will require specific outreach programs to obtain their input. Each of the participating agencies has the responsibility to reach out to the users of their data and information because the agencies can more readily identify their own users and have more opportunity for informal and formal contact with them.

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Go to Chapter 3. Users and the GCDIS

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