Relevant Legislation and Guidelines Adopted Since 2001
This appendix summarizes relevant congressional legislation and U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance since publication of the second edition of Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency (National Research Council, 2001c). It covers the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA); Section 208 of the E-Government Act, which requires Privacy Impact Assessments for federal data collections; the Information Quality Act of 2000; OMB guidance on peer review; and OMB provisions for rating the performance of federal programs using the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).
CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION PROTECTION AND STATISTICAL EFFICIENCY ACT
The Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act was passed as Title V of the E-Government Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-347). Enactment of CIPSEA culminated more than 30 years of efforts to standardize and strengthen legal protections for data collected for statistical purposes by federal agencies while permitting limited sharing of individually identifiable business information among three statistical agencies for efficiency and quality improvement.
Title V has two subtitles. Subtitle A, Confidential Information Protection, strengthens and extends confidentiality protection for all statistical data collections of the U.S. government. For all data furnished by indi-
viduals or organizations to an agency under a pledge of confidentiality for exclusively statistical purposes, it provides that the data will be used only for statistical purposes and will not be disclosed in identifiable form to anyone not authorized by the title. It makes knowing and willful disclosure of confidential statistical data a class E felony with fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to 5 years.
Subtitle A pertains not only to surveys, but also to collections by a federal agency for statistical purposes from administrative records (e.g., state government agency records). Data covered under subtitle A are not subject to release under a Freedom of Information Act request. Guidance from OMB, which is charged to oversee and coordinate the implementation of CIPSEA, is under development. It is intended to cover such topics as the steps that agencies must take to protect confidential information; wording of confidentiality pledges in materials that are provided to respondents; steps that agencies must take to distinguish any data or information they collect for nonstatistical purposes and to provide proper notice to the public of such data; and ways in which agents (e.g., contractors, researchers) may be designated to use individually identifiable information for analysis and other statistical purposes and be held legally responsible for protecting the confidentiality of that information.
Subtitle B of CIPSEA, Statistical Efficiency, permits the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Census Bureau to share individually identifiable business data for statistical purposes. The intent of the subtitle is to reduce respondent burden on businesses; improve the comparability and accuracy of federal economic statistics by permitting these three agencies to reconcile differences among sampling frames, business classifications, and business reporting; and increase understanding of the U.S. economy and improve the accuracy of key national indicators, such as the national income and product accounts.
SECTION 208, E-GOVERNMENT ACT
Section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002 requires federal agencies to conduct a privacy impact assessment (PIA) whenever the agency develops or obtains information technology that handles individually identifiable information or whenever the agency initiates a new collection of individually identifiable information. The PIA is to be made publicly available and cover such topics as what information is being collected and why, with whom the information will be shared, what provisions will be made for
informed consent regarding data sharing, and how the information will be secured. Typically, PIAs cover not only privacy issues, but also confidentiality, integrity, and availability issues (see, e.g., U.S. Census Bureau, 2003). OMB is required to issue guidance for development of PIAs, which was done in a memorandum from the OMB director to the heads of executive agencies and departments on September 26, 2003 (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2003).
INFORMATION QUALITY ACT OF 2000
The Information Quality Act (IQA), two sentences in an appropriations bill for fiscal 2001 (P.L. 106-554, section 515a), requires federal agencies to develop predissemination procedures that will ensure the quality of information they disseminate and to develop an administrative mechanism whereby affected parties can request that agencies correct low-quality information. The act directs OMB to issue guidelines “ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information … disseminated by Federal agencies.”
OMB published proposed governmentwide IQA guidelines in the Federal Register on June 28, 2001 (66 Federal Register 34489) and final guidelines (with a request for further comments on certain points) on September 28, 2001 (66 Federal Register 49718). OMB later republished the guidelines (after incorporating changes pursuant to public comments) on February 22, 2002 (67 Federal Register 8452-8460; see also http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/iqg_2002.pdf [January 2005]).
In June 2002, 13 statistical agencies issued a Federal Register notice (67 Federal Register 38467-38470, June 4) outlining a common approach to the development and provision of guidelines for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of disseminated information. The notice directed people to the web sites of each agency for more information and to learn how to comment on draft guidelines. Each agency then finalized its own guidelines (see, for example, http://www.census.gov/qdocs/www/quality_guidelines.htm [January 2005]).
OMB GUIDANCE ON PEER REVIEW
Under the authority of the Information Quality Act, OMB issued a draft Peer Review Bulletin for public comment on September 15, 2003. It issued a Revised Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review on April 15,
2004, which incorporated comments from agencies, the National Academies, and others. The Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review was issued on December 16, 2004; it requires federal agencies to conduct a peer review of “influential scientific information” before the information is released to the public. “Influential scientific information” is defined as “scientific information the agency reasonably can determine will have or does have a clear and substantial impact on important public policies or private sector decisions” (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2004b:10). The bulletin grants agencies discretion to select the type of peer review process for a particular information product. The bulletin excludes from the guidelines “routine statistical information released by federal statistical agencies (e.g., periodic demographic and economic statistics) and the analysis of these data to compute standard indicators and trends (e.g., unemployment and poverty rates)” (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2004b:40).
PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT RATING TOOL
The Office of Management and Budget began a major initiative in 2002 to develop a tool for assessing the performance of federal agencies and programs that would identify effective and ineffective programs and provide information that could be used in making budgetary decisions. The tool is the Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART), which is a questionnaire that has sets of questions or measures on program design and purpose, program goals, agency management of programs, and results that agencies can report with accuracy and consistency. (There are several versions of PART for use by different kinds of programs, such as research and development programs, competitive grant programs, or direct federal programs.) Answers to the questions in each section produce a numeric score for that section from 0 to 100; the section scores are then combined to achieve an overall qualitative rating: Effective, Moderately Effective, Adequate, or Ineffective (for more information, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/part/2004_faq.html [January 2005]).
The statistical agencies and units on the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy collaborated to develop an initial set of common performance standards for use in completing PART and in developing strategic plans required by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). The agencies agreed on two general areas of focus—product quality and program performance—and on three dimensions of each focus area. For
product quality, the dimensions are relevance, accuracy, and timeliness; for program performance, the dimensions are cost, dissemination, and mission achievement. Example indicators were developed for each dimension, such as measures of customer satisfaction as an indicator of mission achievement (see U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2004a:41-46).