About FWS Data Management

What is Data Management?

Simply put, data management is properly documenting and caring for our data and the information we derive from the data we collect. A Service biologist might spend hours in the field collecting habitat or species information, but without proper data management, the data might not be usable (or even discoverable!) by researchers, policymakers, or even our own colleagues.

Good data management enables data to be located, shared, and increases efficiency by reducing redundancy. Managing data improves conservation outcomes and supports the mission of the Service. The data we acquire, maintain, and analyze represent and embody the trust resources we manage. Making decisions based on reliable and accessible data improves our conservation outcomes, as well as the Service’s scientific credibility.

Photo of biologist monitoring acoustic hydrophone data

Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

A Service biologist monitors acoustic hydrophone data. In order to make sound decisions and safeguard public information, the Service must manage its scientific data effectively and transparently.

In order to make sound decisions and safeguard public information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) must manage its scientific data effectively and transparently. Recent Federal Laws mandating improved open access to data extend this responsibility. The ready discovery and delivery of well-documented data are also necessary for the success of our conservation partnerships. Strong partnerships, science-based management, and public accountability demand an integrated program of data management that is understood and supported throughout the Service.

How did we get here?

2012: The Service Science Committee appointed an ad-hoc Subcommittee on data management to develop a vision and strategy for scientific data management across the Service.

2014: The data management subcommittee drafted the report “Data are ‘Trust Resources’: a Strategy for Managing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Scientific Data.” In this document they outlined the need for better data management in the Service and a strategy to achieve a “shift in culture that fully embraces a new vision of the Service’s scientific data” as trust resources.

2016: The Service held a Data Science Workshop to discuss data management challenges within the agency and to build a community of practice to identify solutions to these challenges. The workshop led to the creation of a FWS national data management initiative. The goals of the initiative are to develop standardized policies and protocols for data planning and collection; better ways to assess data quality and utility; and better communication and sharing of resources, guidance, and tools for data management.

2018: The Service Directorate established a Data Governance Board to provide leadership and direction for data management for the Service.

2019: The Service hired its first Chief Data Officer.

FWS Chief Data Officer

The Chief Data Officer is responsible for putting in place the standards and practices that will ensure Service data are available, reliable, consistent, accessible, secure, and timely. The Chief Data Officer leads the Service's Data Governance Board and the implementation of data management laws and policies. One of the primary duties of the Chief Data Officer is to collaborate with Service managers and the Service Directorate to create and implement data management standards and practices focused on governing, guiding, monitoring, and communicating Service-wide data management requirements. In addition, the Chief Data Officer represents the Service on Interior Department data management teams and initiatives, helping to ensure coordination and compliance with Departmental policies and programs.

Data Governance Board

Central to this effort is the Data Governance Board, which provides leadership and direction for data management functions in support of the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Board will ensure that Service data are managed as critical assets and are collected, maintained, and distributed according to applicable laws, regulations, and policies. The Data Governance Board consists of the Chief Data Officer along with 8 appointed members from regions and programs in the Service.

The Board's functions include:

  • Supporting the vision and goals of the Service and Department of the Interior for data management
  • Communicating and promoting the value of data management for the mission of the Service
  • Developing Service policies for data management
  • Creating and implementing a data management plan for the Service
  • Monitoring the progress and results of data management activities

Successful data management requires both national leadership and all of us working together to fulfill our responsibilities and to raise the bar on data management in the Service.

Have a question or comment for the Data Governance Board? Contact us via email at fws-data-management@fws.gov.