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As more and more people leave the Survey, knowledge about their research, day-to-day activities, and information they have created and collected is either walking out the door with them or is left behind in someone’s office. Often these boxes that are left behind have simple labels on them such as “disks” or “office” and are eventually moved to storage rooms – or the garbage – without any idea of what information was contained in the boxes.  How can we make this situation better? 

At the 2011 CDI face-to-face meeting, the idea of an exit survey was introduced as a way to collect information from employees about their data and information before they leave.  The intent is to have some sort of form that can be filled out which will note where data and information is located, how to access the data, etc.  The hope is that even if boxes are still left behind, or data from a previous employee is needed, that these forms will give us a way to find and use that information.  In 2014, a Exit Survey Working Group (ESWG) was created to help with this problem.

Currently, two complimentary exit surveys are being developed.

  • One version is looking at it from a Records Management perspective, and a draft has already been developed.  The idea is to change the 9090 Exiting Process paperwork related to records management and also work with HR on revisions.  Also, the intent is to be able to use this guidance as an appendix to appropriate Survey Manual chapters, and post on the USGS Data Management Website.  A draft version of this document has already been created (view document).
  • A second survey is being developed from a Data Management perspective, and it is this version that the ESWG will develop.  This version will be less formal than the other exit survey, and will also go into more detail.  What is included in the survey, and what form it takes will be decided by the WG.

As these exit surveys are already needed, the ESWG will develop a draft version of the second survey that will be shared with the DMWG and other interested parties.  The hope is that by using this exit survey, we are ensuring that the data and information left behind has some identifying information and metadata so that it can be discovered and reused.

Potential Topics for the Exit Survey

A Google Doc has been started so that we can all edit the list. We'll revisit and add to it during our calls. (If you can't access the Google Doc, please email Heather Henkel (

Meeting Notes


A page has been created with links to documents that might be of use to the ESWG.



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