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The Unique Role of Federal Scientific Collections: Infrastructure Generating Benefits, Serving Diverse Agency Missions (A Report of the Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections)

Scientific research and development are essential in the government, private, and academic sectors of American society. Scientific collections, both living and non-living, are critical components of the U.S. government’s R&D infrastructure, essential for ensuring national security, protecting the public’s health and safe food supply, promoting innovation and economic growth, and protecting the environment. To pursue their diverse long-term missions, U.S. departments and agencies have created and preserve scientific collections to address new and unpredictable challenges to society and to establish long-term baseline histories for the analysis of change, often using new analytical technologies. Federal scientific collections serve the public good by providing access to objects of scientific value regardless of where, when, by whom, or for what reasons they were originally collected and preserved. The White House National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections (IWGSC) has, since 2005, convened representatives from 24 Federal departments and agencies that rely on scientific collections. IWGSC has produced a series of studies, reports, and other information resources aimed at improving policies, transparency, accessibility, management, and the assessment of costs and benefits related to Federal scientific collections. This report summarizes these achievements and presents 21 case studies showing how Federal scientific collections have served the nation in diverse areas of American life.

Publication Date: November 29, 2023

Availability: Electronically