Space Operations:

Archiving Space Science Data Needs Further Management Improvements

NSIAD-94-25: Published: Dec 9, 1993. Publicly Released: Jan 13, 1994.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

David R. Warren
(202) 512-8412
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) data archiving program, focusing on: (1) NASA improvements to its data archiving policies and practices in response to recommendations; and (2) other needed program improvements.

GAO found that NASA: (1) has responded to its recommendations by improving its data storage conditions, creating subject area archives, locating, restoring, and archiving data from past missions, and revising its data management policies and procedures; (2) has not completed its efforts to locate archival data from past missions because it has not assessed data held in temporary storage locations; (3) cannot estimate the funds needed for archival data restoration because it lacks information on the availability of past mission data; (4) needs to develop data management plans so it can adequately budget for future archiving needs; (5) has not reached agreement with other agencies on the storage of Earth Observing System data; (6) does not ensure that original data are preserved until permanent archives are created and does not periodically inspect data archive facilities or sample data to ensure that physical conditions protect data quality; and (7) needs to update its data management policies to reflect changes in its responsibilities due to its reorganization.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA's science data management policy has been incorporated into the policies and procedures of the 3 new organizations formed from NASA's previous Office of Space Science and Applications.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should instruct officials responsible for data archiving and management to update NASA science data management policy directive to reflect roles and responsibilities consistent with the current organization of NASA science divisions.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA has added a series of questions to a self-assessment document for reviewing the physical facilities used to store scientific data. Also, a new records management policy provides information on NASA's data archives, including the conditions and procedures at such a facility.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should instruct officials responsible for data archiving and management to establish procedures requiring periodic review of the adequacy of physical conditions at data storage locations and sampling of the quality of data.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Project Data Management Plans' guidelines have been revised to include more project-specific conditions for data disposal, and coordination with NASA's records management program is being done to ensure the orderly disposition of original data.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should instruct officials responsible for data archiving and management to require confirmation that permanent archives have been created before original data records are destroyed.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA's memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Geological Survey was updated in September 1993. NASA's agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was essentially final, except for NOAA's concern about the availability of long-term funding for carrying out its portion of the agreement.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should instruct officials responsible for data archiving and management to establish milestones for completing plans and agreements with other agencies on Earth Observing System permanent archives.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA has supplemented its project data management plan requirements for all science programs to cover the review of data-related issues as part of the standard management practices and procedures. Such plans, or their equivalent, are, in some cases, subject to routine review by data users.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should instruct officials responsible for data archiving and management to ensure that mission project data management plans are prepared at the beginning of a project so that mission archives can be adequately planned and budgeted for in the context of overall program affordability.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: NASA believes that its efforts have identified most data and that further inventorying efforts would not be productive.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should instruct officials responsible for data archiving and management to expand NASA science data inventory to include sites that have not been surveyed to date and archive or release data as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA has not incorporated data management policy in its contract for operation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; however, data management requirements are included, as appropriate, in the task orders issued under that contract.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should instruct officials responsible for data archiving and management to include appropriate elements of NASA data management policies in future contracts with the California Institute of Technology for operation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Dec 15, 2014

Dec 10, 2014

Dec 9, 2014

Jul 23, 2014

Jul 16, 2014

Jun 20, 2014

May 15, 2014

May 8, 2014

Apr 15, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here