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EarthCube Office Shines During National Science Foundation Mid-Term Review

The EarthCube Office (ECO) recently underwent a mid-term management review, a milestone in its three-year cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation to serve the EarthCube community. The review panel examined the performance of the Office in its primary goals of facilitating governance, driving data discovery and access - principally through GeoCODES - and enhancing science engagement. There are several core values for sound management that underpin the expectations for ECO performance, and these were also assessed as part of Office execution and planning; these include transparency, responsiveness, community leadership, inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, and sustainability.

The panel gave favorable reviews in every dimension, with overall management described as “responsive to a successful community governance model based on a small but highly skilled staff.” Several other areas were also called out for their successes, including responsiveness to governance priorities, the Notebook initiative, the Data Help Desk, and ECO’s recent work with the governance-driven Diversity Equity and Inclusion Working Group.

The panel made several recommendations, especially in the area of sustainability, asking, “What comes after the EarthCube Office?” ECO will address this recommendation by working closely with EarthCube governance to disseminate suggestions, gather feedback and, where possible, initiate first steps.

EarthCube Office Principal Investigator Christine Kirkpatrick credits the governance teams and community for the successful review. “Our success is a reflection of the vibrant activities and commitment of the people and initiatives that we serve,” said Kirkpatrick. “We were able to build upon work by the earlier offices and are extremely grateful to the dedicated members who make serving the geosciences community a true pleasure.”

The EarthCube Office was specifically commended on governance efforts with the review noting: “The panel felt that ECO’s governance model is strong and supports both the community and ECO itself. There is broad participation with many individuals (funded and unfunded) who are committed to both the success of the EarthCube program and ECO. Governance was developed further from previous work and actively evolved during the current funding cycle, including strategic, high-impact investments of funds for both staff time and project funding.”

Communications efforts were also highlighted by the reviewers, who stated that “ECO has followed a wise strategy in making community communications a centerpiece of their effort.”

One of the significant accomplishments discussed during the mid-term review was the re-designed GeoCODES which has significant impact for data and tool discovery in the EarthCube community. The reach of this work will continue beyond EarthCube and benefit the broader geosciences community. Specifically, the panel found that “the demonstration of community data access and retrieval that GeoCODES provides is an important culmination of the EarthCube vision, as it has proceeded from gathering ideas, to agreement on requirements, to the first iteration of technical reality.”

Community members interested in joining the sustainability conversations will have several opportunities to do so, and these will be highlighted in next month's newsletter. Please save the date for the upcoming annual meeting (June 15-17), where we will also have facilitated brainstorming sessions on sustainability.

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