DOE Policy for Digital Research Data Management

The Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for advancing the energy, environmental, and nuclear security of the United States; promoting scientific and technological innovation in support of that mission; sponsoring basic research in the physical sciences; and ensuring the environmental cleanup of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex1.

This policy is part of the implementation of the Department’s Public Access Plan and has been developed with input from a variety of stakeholders in its research mission.

Here, data management involves all stages of the digital data lifecycle including capture, analysis, sharing, and preservation.  The focus of this statement is Data Sharing and Data Preservation of Digital Research Data

This policy applies to Unclassified and Otherwise Unrestricted Digital Research Data produced in whole or in part by Department of Energy federal employees, National Laboratory and other Management and Operating (M&O) contractor employees, financial assistance awardees, other grantees, and other contractor entities where the data are produced with complete or partial DOE funding, unless otherwise prohibited by law, regulation, agreement terms and conditions, or policy.

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The Department affirms that the following principles for the management of digital research data support its mission.

  • Effective data management has the potential to increase the pace of scientific discovery and promote more efficient and effective use of government funding and resources. Data management planning should be an integral part of research planning.
  • Sharing and preserving data are central to protecting the integrity of science by facilitating validation of results and to advancing science by broadening the value of research data to disciplines other than the originating one and to society at large. To the greatest extent, with the fewest constraints possible, and consistent with the requirements and other principles stated in this document, data sharing should make digital research data available to and useful for the scientific community, industry, and the public.
  • Not all data need to be shared or preserved. The costs and benefits of doing so should be considered in data management planning.

Roles and Responsibilities

DOE Sponsoring Research Offices

Each DOE sponsoring research office2 will ensure that all of its funded research activities have an associated Data Management Plan (DMP). 

Beginning Oct 1, 2015, each DOE sponsoring research office will ensure that the requirements for DMPs are included in all solicitations and invitations for research funding with details about how and when a DMP should be submitted.

DOE sponsoring offices will ensure that DMPs are appropriately reviewed and that the evaluation of the DMPs takes into account the relative values of long-term preservation and access and the associated cost and administrative burden. 

DOE sponsoring offices will assess the long-term needs for data sharing, beginning about three years after this policy goes into effect, to allow time for the completion of research activities with associated DMPs. This will provide a venue for evaluating the impact of the DMP requirements on data sharing and preservation practices on the various research communities.

For elements of the Department for which the collection of research data is not already practiced, DOE sponsoring offices should consult with their research communities through public forums such as Federal Advisory Committee Meetings and public announcements to identify which research data are appropriate for the DOE to collect or otherwise include in the public listing of agency data, required by the Open Data Policy, and suitable mechanisms for doing so.

Respondents to DOE Research Funding Solicitations

All research activities funded by DOE sponsoring offices must include a DMP that meets the requirements stated in this policy and any additional requirements identified by the sponsoring research office.

Respondents will be required to submit a DMP and should consult the relevant requirements in the solicitation for full details including when the DMP is required.  In most cases, a DMP will be required as part of the overall research proposal.

Recipients of DOE Research Funding

The DMP is part of the overall conditions of the funded research and, as such, it is expected that researchers will follow, to the best of their ability, the proposed research and associated data management plan. Failure to do so may negatively influence future funding opportunities of the recipient.

DOE sponsored research activities at the DOE National Laboratories for which a DOE-approved DMP does not already exist will be required to develop a DMP.  In most cases, the DMP will be requested as part of the next peer review organized by the DOE sponsoring research office.

Requirements and Guidance from DOE Sponsoring Offices


All DMPs submitted to any DOE sponsoring office should meet the following requirements:

  • DMPs should describe whether and how data generated in the course of the proposed research will be shared and preserved and, at a minimum, describe how data sharing and preservation will enable validation of results, or how results could be validated if data are not shared or preserved.
  • DMPs should provide a plan for making all research data displayed in publications resulting from the proposed research open, machine-readable, and digitally accessible to the public at the time of publication. This includes data that are displayed in charts, figures, images, etc. In addition, the underlying digital research data used to generate the displayed data should be made as accessible as possible to the public in accordance with the Principles stated above. The published article should indicate how these data can be accessed.
  • DMPs should consult and reference available information about data management resources to be used in the course of the proposed research. In particular, DMPs that explicitly or implicitly commit data management resources at a facility beyond what is conventionally made available to approved users should be accompanied by written approval from that facility. In determining the resources available for data management at DOE Scientific User Facilities, researchers should consult the published description of data management resources and practices at that facility and reference it in the DMP.
  • DMPs must protect confidentiality, personal privacy, Personally Identifiable Information, and U.S. national, homeland, and economic security; recognize proprietary interests, business confidential information, and intellectual property rights; avoid significant negative impact on innovation and U.S. competitiveness; and otherwise be consistent with all applicable laws, regulations, agreement terms and conditions, and DOE orders and policies.

In instances where the Department intends to collect digital data resulting from the supported research, additional requirements for data management may be necessary to ensure the Department meets the requirements of the Open Data Policy.

Additional requirements for the DMP may be identified by the sponsoring office, program, sub-program, or in the solicitation.  Some sponsoring research offices have provided additional requirements and guidance as detailed below: 


Researchers are encouraged to propose DMPs that reflect relevant standards and community best practices for data and metadata, and make use of community accepted repositories and publicly accessible databases whenever practicable.

Costs associated with the scope of work and resources articulated in a DMP may be included in the proposed research budget as permitted by the applicable cost principles.

View a list of Suggested Elements for a DMP.

Information about Data Management Resources at DOE Scientific User Facilities

Follow this link for information about data management resources at the DOE Scientific User Facilities: Information about Data Management Resources at DOE Scientific User Facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow this link for FAQs.


Follow this link to a Glossary of relevant terms.


[1] Department of Energy Strategic Plan 2014-2018

[2] Also referred to here as “sponsoring offices”, this includes ARPA-E and the Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability, Office Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Office of Environmental Management, Office of Fossil Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, and the Office of Science.