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Ensuring the Quality of Data Disseminated by the Federal Government: Workshop Report
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
Mr. James Scanlon said that DHHS had used a process similar to that of the Department of Commerce, publishing its guidelines in two parts: a series of guidelines for the entire agency, and a draft or template to be adopted or adapted by each of the operating agencies and offices.
To create these guidelines, the HHS assembled a data quality working group under its Data Policy Council. This Council is responsible for overseeing the dissemination of substantive information by the agency, including:
results of scientific research studies
statistical and analytic studies and products
programmatic and regulatory information, including program evaluations
public health surveillance, epidemiological and risk assessment studies and information; and
authoritative health, medical, and safety information initiated or sponsored by HHS.
The guidelines applied only to information initiated or sponsored by HHS, and bearing its imprimatur. They do not apply to extramural research, where dissemination is the responsibility of the investigator, or to intramural research published independently by the investigator. Mr. Scanlon further noted that “information” was defined as “any communication or representation of facts or knowledge, in any medium or form.” Information did not include:
distribution limited to government employees, contractors, or grantees
intra- or interagency use or sharing of information
responses to FOIA, FACA, or the Privacy Act
hyperlinks to data disseminated by others; and
correspondence limited to individuals, press releases, archival records, subpoenas, or judicial proceedings
Professor Morrison said that there might be some confusion about what started out to be an OMB exemption for press releases, on the assumption that they constitute opinions rather than facts. He noted, however, that “we think that ‘x is a carcinogen’ sounds very similar to ‘x is a