Below is a list of the items that are normally included in a data sharing agreement. While this list may cover the basics, additional concerns may be relevant to a given data set or to a given supply agency. The USGS does not disclose or exchange records or data: Data exchange agreements must include provisions for access and dissemination. It is not desirable to enter into a data-sharing agreement to disclose data protection information, as non-federal organizations are not subject to data protection law. Similarly, it is worth drawing the attention of the non-federal organization to the fact that federal authorities may be forced to disclose information under the FOIA. Data exchange also promotes accountability and transparency, allowing researchers to validate the results of the other. Finally, data from several sources can often be combined to allow comparisons across national and departmental boundaries. Note that the details of these agreements may need to balance differences in management and differences in business practices. For example, how does an authority protect its data and what access can it allow through firewalls and security controls? How will the authorities inform each other if authorisations are changed? Which manager will be responsible for the data declared? If the partner is a foreign company that does not accept compliance with U.S. law, the agreements must go through the USGS Office of International Programs. Data exchange is an important way to increase the capacity of researchers, scientists and policy makers to analyse data and translate it into meaningful reports and knowledge.

Data sharing discourages duplication in data collection and fosters multiple thinking and cooperation, as others are able to use the data to answer questions that the original data collectors might not have considered. . . .

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