As organizations collect increasingly high volumes of data, the need for sophisticated data curation procedures to ensure that data remains accessible to key audiences and preserved over the long-term has become vital to remaining competitive. Effective curation adds value to data, while fostering trust among users by improving transparency and reliability.

Since 2018, DevTech has been supporting USAID Data Services using its Data Librarianship, Curation, and Repository Management Framework, which is designed to help ensure that project deliverables submitted to the Agency are properly processed and made ready for publication through the implementation of stringent data quality and risk assessment procedures. The framework centers on three steps: ingest, management and preservation.

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DevTech’s Data Librarianship, Curation, and Repository Management Framework at work

In 2019, USAID’s Bureau for Management was getting ready to launch a new version of its data publication platform, the Development Data Library (DDL). They needed data curation experts to migrate existing data to the new platform. They also needed support in ensuring that the new platform would be widely adopted and populated with high quality data that would be usable over the long-term.

DevTech created the Digital Curation and Librarianship (DCL) group within the USAID Data Services contract to meet the demand. The group hit the ground running with a plan to migrate data assets from the old platform to the new one. DCL staff members also worked in collaboration with USAID Data Services’ communications team to develop and circulate instructional materials and with DevTech’s capacity building experts to develop webinars and training videos for users of the new interface. The DCL group developed and began using new workflows for user management, data review, data and metadata curation, risk assessment review, long-term storage, and publication.

Since the platform’s launch in November 2018, the streamlined curation process developed by DevTech’s DCL team has been instrumental in increasing the availability of high-quality data on the new DDL. The Agency has more than doubled its data catalog, going from a baseline of 174 data assets to 466 data assets over a period of 18 months. In addition to stewarding new data assets through the submission, archiving, and dissemination processes, the DCL team worked with USAID staff and Implementing Partners to help them understand what makes for a great data submission. DevTech’s Data Policy experts created new guidance on data management planning to help partners plan for robust and trustworthy data collection. DevTech’s close collaboration with USAID from day one of the formation of the Digital Curation and Librarianship group has helped to ensure that USAID’s valuable development data will be usable by a wide array of audiences for the long-term.

While the launch of the updated DDL was an important step towards ensuring that USAID-funded data is made accessible, discoverable, and usable, USAID has recognized the need for a consolidated digital repository that can curate, preserve, and disseminate heterogeneous digital objects that result from USAID-funded programs and activities, including but not limited to datasets, visual media, and documents. DevTech staff has been working closely with USAID to develop a new platform that not only fulfills these requirements but also meets repository best practice criteria, such as those of the Trustworthy Repository Audit and Certification (TRAC), with the objective of providing all stakeholders with assurances about the quality, integrity, and long-term availability of digital resources. The platform will also be implemented through the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) functional model to provide technology independent, modular infrastructure components that assure long-term management and preservation of data.