In the fall of 2000, Congress enacted the Data Quality Act, directing OMB to issue, by September 2001, government-wide guidelines to “provide policy and procedural guidance to federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies....”3 Accordingly, OMB issued proposed guidelines in June 2001, sought public comment, and issued revised guidelines in September 2001, seeking additional public comment. Final guidelines were issued in January 2002.4

The proposed OMB guidelines applied to information dissemination activities that vary in importance and scope, include all media (printed and electronic), and direct agencies to develop procedures that are consistent with their own missions, resources, and administrative practices. The proposed guidelines also:

  • stated that “agencies shall have a basic standard of quality (including objectivity, utility, and integrity) as a performance goal”;

  • recognized a range of importance for government information, and asserted that more important information, such as “influential scientific, financial, or statistical information,” should be held to a higher quality standard, with scientific or statistical results required to be “capable of being substantially reproduced”;

  • required that agencies disseminating information regarding risks to human health, safety, and the environment either adopt or adapt the quality principles applied by Congress to risk information used and disseminated pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996;

  • required agencies to establish administrative mechanisms that allow affected persons to seek correction of information disseminated by the agency, as well as to establish an appeals process;

  • were designed to provide agencies flexibility in incorporating existing policies and procedures into the new guidelines; and

  • were designed to assure maximal usefulness of the information to the intended users.

OMB received approximately 100 comments from academic institutions and societies (including the National Academy of Sciences), federal agencies, industry groups, individuals, and others on their proposed guidelines. While several agencies noted that they would be able to com-

3  

Section 515(a) of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554).

4  

“Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies,” January 3, 2002, 67 FR 369 and corrected version, February 5, 2002, 67 FR 5365, pp. 8452-8460.



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