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Data Management Case Studies

Government data - risk, backup, and rescue

Most US government data is maintained and managed by the department that collects it. These data are often publicly available on the agencies' websites or other government run web portals. These agencies have excellent data management practices with very good storage and backup plans and risk management plans. Almost all of these plans are also managed by government employees on government funded servers.

So what happens if an administration wants to suppress certain data? They could eliminate staff who manage the data, or defund the agency so that servers and backup storage devices can no longer be funded. 

A best practice for backing up data is to distribute the data geographically, and also to consider ownership. We often advise against keeping all of your backup data in one company's products, in case something happens to that company. The government could take a lesson from this advice and find partners outside of the government -commercial, academic, or other- to backup their data in case an administration attempt to make these important data unavailable.

Read more about data backup and storage on the Storage page of the Data Management Best Practices guide and the Storage Options page of the Data Management for Research guide.