Have you ever wondered about the relationship between NARA’s metadata guidance, open data, and the Project Open Data Metadata Schema for data.gov? In this post, we provide an overview of these three pieces of guidance and how they work together.
NARA Bulletin 2015-04: Metadata Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records
NARA Bulletin 2015-04 specifies the minimum metadata required to describe the content, context, and structure of permanently valuable electronic records that Federal agencies must maintain and transfer to NARA.
OMB Memorandum M-13-13 Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset
Project Open Data, created in response to OMB Memo M-13-13, enhances public access to data sets created across the Federal government. The project established a unified access website supported by a core set of metadata. The data sets themselves remain in the custody of the agencies.
NARA’s mission differs from Project Open Data’s in that NARA assumes physical and intellectual custody of permanently valuable government information–including both structured data sets and unstructured records. NARA must manage all records in its custody in a way that is reliable, searchable, and sustainable for as long as needed. NARA’s minimum metadata guidance provides a set of file level data that makes those records discoverable and understandable along with the other electronic collections held by the National Archives.
NARA requires metadata in addition to, and sometimes distinct from, the Project Open Data Schema in order to preserve the context of permanent records transferred to the National Archives by Federal agencies.
Project Open Data Metadata Schema for Data.gov
The Project Open Data Metadata Schema v1.1 used by the Project Open Data is based on DCAT, a hierarchical vocabulary specific to datasets. Data.gov follows the Project Open Data schema and has a set of required fields (Title, Description, Tags, Last Update, Publisher, Contact Name, etc.) for every data set displayed on Data.gov. Data.gov only contains metadata about datasets, including URLs and descriptions of datasets. It does not include the actual data within each dataset.
NARA’s minimum metadata elements have been adapted from the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). DCMI identifies 15 high-level properties referred to as elements and additional properties referred to as terms, which may be used to refine the meaning of an element. A dataset must have both a NARA-approved permanent disposition authority and the minimum metadata elements required for transfer per NARA Bulletin 2015-04.
Update: Fixed Project Open Data Metadata Schema v1.1 title and link.