This appendix summarizes the major legislation and agency regulations and guidance that govern the operations of the federal statistical system as a whole, highlighting ten topics in three categories (see Appendix B for descriptions of the overall structure of the system and the principal statistical agencies):
1. Regulatory authority of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
a. The 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act, as reauthorized and amended in 1995, and associated guidance (covering also the 1942 Federal Reports Act and the 1950 Budget and Accounting Procedures Act)
b. OMB Statistical Policy Directives
2. Confidentiality and privacy protection
a. The 1997 Order Providing for the Confidentiality of Statistical Information
b. The 2002 Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA—Title V of the E-Government Act) and associated guidance
c. The 2002 E-Government Act, Section 208, which requires privacy impact assessments for federal data collections and associated guidance (covering also the 1974 Privacy Act)
d. The 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA—Title III of the E-Government Act)
3. Information quality, peer review, performance evaluation, and scientific integrity
a. The 2000 Information Quality Act and associated guidelines
b. 2004 OMB peer review guidance
c. The 2010 Government Results and Performance Modernization Act
d. 2009–2010 guidance on scientific integrity
Most of the legislation, regulations, and guidance pertains to the authority of OMB, which plays a critical role in oversight of the federal government’s widely dispersed statistical operations. The oversight dates to 1939, when the functions of a Central Statistical Board, created in 1933, were transferred to the then-named Bureau of the Budget (see Anderson, 1988; Duncan and Shelton, 1978; Norwood, 1995). Recent legislation and guidance address such systemwide issues as confidentiality protection and privacy of respondents, data quality (including peer review prior to dissemination), efficiency of operations, and scientific integrity.
THE 1980 PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT AND ASSOCIATED GUIDANCE
The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1980 (44 USC 3501, amended in 1986 and reauthorized and amended in 1995 by P.L. 104-13) is the foundation for the modern statistical coordination and management mission of OMB. It establishes OMB’s review power over federal statistical agencies and myriad other agencies throughout the federal government that collect information from individuals and organizations. This review power covers both data collection budgets and methods and practices for data collection and dissemination.
The PRA’s origins trace back to Executive Order 6226, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1933, which established a Central Statistical Board to “appraise and advise upon all schedules of all Government agencies engaged in the primary collection of statistics required in carrying out the purposes of the National Industrial Recovery Act, to review plans for tabulation and classification of such statistics, and to promote the coordination and improvement of the statistical services involved.” Members of the
board were appointed by the relevant cabinet secretaries. The board was established in law for a 5-year period in 1935. Its functions were transferred to the Bureau of the Budget (itself established in 1921) in 1939, when the Budget Bureau was transferred to the Executive Office of the President.
The 1942 Federal Reports Act represented another milestone by codifying the authority for the Budget Bureau to coordinate and oversee the work of federal statistical agencies. Most famously, it provided that no federal agency could collect data from 10 or more respondents without approval of the budget director. (Data collections by contractors on behalf of federal agencies are covered by this provision, although data collections by government grantees are generally not covered.) The 1950 Budget and Accounting Procedures Act (31 USC 1104(d)) further strengthened the statistical coordinating and improvement role of OMB, giving OMB authorization to promulgate regulations and orders governing statistical programs throughout the federal government.
The statistical policy function continued in the budget office in the Executive Office of the President when the Budget Bureau became the Office of Management and Budget in 1970. However, in 1977, the statistical policy staff was split into two groups: one group remained in the OMB to handle the paperwork clearance and review function for statistical agencies; the other group was moved to the Department of Commerce to address statistical policy and standards issues.
The overarching goal of the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act was to reduce the burden of filling out federal forms by businesses and individuals. It moved the statistical policy office back to OMB (from the Department of Commerce) under a new Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which was charged to reduce the combined burden imposed by regulatory agencies and administrative and statistical program agencies. The PRA required OMB, through the chief statistician, to engage in long-range planning to improve federal statistical programs; review statistical budgets; coordinate government statistical functions; establish standards, classifications, and other guidelines for statistical data collection and dissemination; and evaluate statistical program performance. In the 1995 reauthorization and extensive revision of the PRA, two of the most significant provisions added for statistical policy were (1) to codify the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP), chaired by the chief statistician, and (2) to update
the legislation to reflect the chief statistician’s role in coordinating U.S. participation in international statistical activities.
Survey Clearance Process
In January 2006 the OMB Statistical and Science Policy Office released Guidance on Agency Survey and Statistical Information Collections—Questions and Answers When Designing Surveys for Information Collections,1 a set of 81 questions and answers that attempts to demystify the OMB clearance process (required by the PRA) for surveys and other statistical information collections. Its purpose is to explain OMB’s review process, assist agencies in strengthening their supporting statements for information collection requests, and provide advice for improving information collection designs.
The Guidance covers such topics as the purpose of the guidance; submission of information collection requests (often called clearance packages) to OMB; scope of the information collection (e.g., calculation of burden hours on respondents); choice of methods; sampling; modes of data collection; questionnaire design and development; statistical standards; informing respondents about their participation and the confidentiality of their data; response rates and incentives; analysis and reporting; and studies using stated preference methods (which ask respondents about the use or non-use value of a good in order to obtain willingness-to-pay estimates relevant to benefit or cost estimation). The Guidance includes a glossary of terms and information collection request supporting statement instructions.
The document outlines the statutory timing and process requirements for all statistical information collection requests in order to obtain OMB approval (which is indicated by an OMB control number on approved survey questionnaires). After an agency has developed a draft information collection plan and instrument, the agency must publish a 60-day notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment on the proposed collection. At this stage, the agency must have the draft survey instrument available for the public to review. Following this initial comment period, the agency may submit its clearance package to OMB, at which time it must place a second notice in the Federal Register, allowing a 30-day public comment period and notifying the public that OMB approval is being sought and that comments may be submitted to OMB. This notice runs concurrent with
1The document is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/pmc_survey_guidance_2006.pdf [February 2013].
the first 30 days of OMB review, half of OMB’s total of 60 days after receipt of the clearance package to make its decision to approve or disapprove or to instruct the agency to make a substantive change to its proposed collection. Generally, agencies need to allow 6 months to complete the entire process, including survey development, public comment, and agency, departmental, and OMB review.
In recent years, OMB has issued several memoranda to clarify particular interpretations and applications of the PRA to agency activities.2 Specifically, OMB issued a memorandum that provides an overview of PRA requirements, discusses PRA implications of social media and web-based interactive technologies, clarifies the use of generic clearances, provides options for streamlining the PRA process for scientific research, establishes a fast-track process for qualitative customer service delivery feedback, and provides answers to PRA questions related to challenges and prizes.
OMB STATISTICAL POLICY DIRECTIVES
The OMB Statistical and Science Policy Office issues and periodically updates a number of directives that pertain to federal agency data collection and dissemination. The process involves expert review, agency consultation, and public comment. The oldest two directives, on standards for statistical surveys and publication of statistics, were first issued in the 1950s, updated in the 1970s, and then combined and revised in 2006. A directive on release of federal statistical products, issued in 2008, complements a directive issued in the 1970s and updated in 1985 on release of federal economic indicators. Three other directives are updated at least every 10 years: standards on metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) (last revised in 2010), on industry (last revised in 2012), and on occupational classification systems (last revised in 2010). A 1969 directive on the official poverty measure was updated in a minor way in 1978.
Among the statistical policy directives are the following, which are briefly summarized below:3
3All but one of the directives are available at or can be linked to from http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/statpolicy.html [February 2013]. The exception is Statistical Policy Directive No. 14, which is available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/povmeas/ombdir14.html [February 2013].
•Standards and Guidelines for Statistical Surveys (replaces and combines Statistical Policy Directives Nos. 1 and 2)
• Statistical Policy Directive No. 3—Compilation, Release, and Evaluation of Principal Federal Economic Indicators (and Schedule of Release Dates for Principal Federal Economic Indicators)
• Statistical Policy Directive No. 4—Release and Dissemination of Statistical Products Produced by Federal Statistical Agencies
• Standards for the definition of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and other statistical areas
• North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)/Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)
• Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)
• Statistical Policy Directive No. 14—Definition of Poverty for Statistical Purposes
• Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity
Standards and Guidelines for Statistical Surveys
After extensive consultation with agencies and the public, OMB issued Standards and Guidelines for Statistical Surveys in September 2006 as an update and revision of Statistical Policy Directive No. 1, Standards for Statistical Surveys, and Statistical Policy Directive No. 2, Publication of Statistics.4 The new document includes 20 standards and one or more associated guidelines for every aspect of survey methodology from planning through data release:
1. survey planning,
2. survey design,
3. survey response rates,
4. pretesting survey systems,
5. developing sampling frames,
6. required notification to potential survey respondents,
7. data collection methodology,
8. data editing,
9. nonresponse analysis and response rate calculation,
4The original directive is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/inforeg/statpolicy/standards_stat_surveys.pdf [February 2013]; the revision is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/fedreg/2006/092206_stat_surveys.pdf [February 2013].
11. data protection,
13. developing estimates and projections,
14. analysis and report planning,
15. inference and comparisons,
16. review of information products,
17. releasing information,
18. data protection and disclosure avoidance for dissemination,
19. survey documentation, and
20. documentation and release of public-use microdata.
Compilation, Release, and Evaluation of Principal Economic Indicators
OMB issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 3—Compilation, Release, and Evaluation of Principal Federal Economic Indicators in the 1970s and strengthened it in 1985.5 Its purpose is clearly stated:
[This directive] designates statistical series that provide timely measures of economic activity as Principal Economic Indicators and requires prompt release of these indicators by statistical agencies in a politically-neutral manner. The intent of the directive is to preserve the time value of such information, strike a balance between timeliness and accuracy, prevent early access to information that may affect financial and commodity markets, and preserve the distinction between the policy-neutral release of data by statistical agencies and their interpretation by policy officials.
Each September OMB issues the Schedule of Release Dates for Principal Federal Economic Indicators for the subsequent calendar year.6 At present, the following agencies issue one or more of the 38 principal economic indicators:
• Bureau of Economic Analysis (5 indicators, including gross domestic product [GDP], personal income and outlays, corporate profits)
• Bureau of Labor Statistics (7 indicators, including the employment situation, Consumer Price Index [CPI])
5See September 25, 1985, Federal Register 50(186). Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/statpolicy/dir_3_fr_09251985.pdf [February 2013].
6Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg_statpolicy#sr [February 2013].
• Census Bureau (13 indicators, including new residential construction, monthly retail trade)
• Energy Information Administration (weekly natural gas storage report)
• Federal Reserve Board (4 indicators, including money stock measures, consumer installment credit)
• Foreign Agricultural Service (world agricultural production).
• National Agricultural Statistics Service (6 indicators, including agricultural prices and grain production)
• World Agricultural Outlook Board (world agricultural supply and demand estimates)
Release and Dissemination of Statistical Products
OMB issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 4—Release and Dissemination of Statistical Products Produced by Federal Statistical Agencies in 2008, which essentially covers all statistical releases other than those specified in Directive 3.7 It includes not only statistical information released in printed reports or on the Internet, but also statistical press releases, which describe or announce a statistical data product. Statistical press releases are the sole responsibility of the relevant statistical agency. Each fall statistical agencies must issue a schedule of when they expect each regular or recurring product to be released and give timely notification of any change to the published schedule.
North American Industry Classification System/Standard Industrial Classification
The NAICS, most recently updated in 2012, substantially revised its predecessor, the SIC.8 NAICS was developed by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to provide a common, contemporary classification system for economic production activity following the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAICS was first issued in 1997 as a conceptual and operational replacement for the SIC, which had been revised on an irregular basis since it was initially issued in various sections
7See March 7, 2008, Federal Register 73(46):12622–12626. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/fedreg/2008/030708_directive-4.pdf [February 2013].
in 1938–1940. Interagency and country working groups (under the aegis of OMB in the United States) have the opportunity to update NAICS every 5 years for years ending in 2 and 7 so that it keeps up reasonably well with changes in the structure of industrial activity in the three countries.
Standard Occupational Classification
The SOC is used by federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for collecting, tabulating, and disseminating data.9 The first SOC was published in 1977 in an effort to standardize the collection of occupational data by multiple agencies. It was revised in 1980 but not universally adopted until an interagency process under the aegis of OMB further revised it in 1998 for use in the 2000 decennial census and surveys conducted in the following decade. Work to revise the 2000 SOC was completed in time for its use in 2010 for the American Community Survey (which provides occupational data in place of the decennial census “long form” sample) and other surveys. The next planned revision of the SOC is scheduled for 2018 and every 10 years thereafter.
Metropolitan Area Classification
For more than 60 years, the OMB Metropolitan Area Classification Program has provided standard statistical area definitions for use throughout the federal government. The usefulness of standardizing these classifications became clear in the 1940s, and the Bureau of the Budget (the predecessor to OMB) led an effort to develop what were then called “standard metropolitan areas” for use in 1950 census publications. Since then, OMB has updated as appropriate the definitional criteria for metropolitan areas before each census; based on those criteria, after each census, OMB has issued a list of recognized areas.
The definitional criteria issued before the 2000 census marked a major revision to the coverage of the program. Standards for Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas defined not only metropolitan statistical areas, but also, for the first time, micropolitan areas.10 Metropolitan areas are those with a central urbanized core of 50,000 or more people in one or
10See December 27, 2000, Federal Register 65(249):82228–82238. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/metroareas122700.pdf [February 2013].
more counties; micropolitan areas are those with a central urbanized core of 10,000 or more people in one or more counties. The list of metropolitan and micropolitan areas using the 2000 criteria was initially issued in 2003 and was updated annually through 2008 by OMB on the basis of the Census Bureau’s population estimates.11 Two years later, OMB issued 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas, which largely continued the criteria adopted for the 2000 standards.12 Areas based on these standards, using data from the 2010 census and the American Community Survey, are scheduled to be delineated and announced in 2013.
Definition of Poverty
OMB first issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 14—Definition of Poverty for Statistical Purposes in 1969. The directive adopted the existing poverty thresholds (first defined by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration in 1963) for different categories of families defined by size, number of children, gender of the family head, and farm-nonfarm residences. For most family types, the thresholds represented the costs of a minimally adequate diet multiplied by three to allow for all other expenses.
The 1969 directive specified that the thresholds would be updated each year for the change in the CPI and compared with families’ total money income as measured in the Current Population Survey. The directive was reissued in 1978; additional minor modifications were made to the poverty thresholds beginning in 1982.13 With input from the observations in the 2010 report of an Interagency Technical Working Group,14 the U.S. Census Bureau released a new supplemental poverty measure in fall 2011 (referencing poverty in calendar 2010), using thresholds developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.15 The thresholds and definition of countable resources
11for example, Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/bulletins/fy2009/09-01.pdf [February 2013].
12Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/fedreg_2010/06282010_metro_standards-Complete.pdf [February 2013].
13Available: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/publications/p60-133.pdf (page 9) [February 2013].
14Available: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/SPM_TWGObservations.pdf [February 2013].
15The supplemental poverty measure statistics for 2011 were published in fall 2012. Available: http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research/Short_ResearchSPM2011.pdf [February 2013].
as money and near-money disposable income for the supplemental poverty measure were derived in large part from the recommendations in Measuring Poverty: A New Approach (National Research Council, 1995a).
Data on Race and Ethnicity
OMB issued Statistical Policy Directive No. 15—Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting in 1977. It specified a minimum set of racial and ethnic categories for reporting of race and ethnicity on federal surveys and in administrative records systems. It recommended either two separate questions, one on ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic) and one on race (white, black, Asian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native), or a combined question that included Hispanic as a category. The U.S. census has historically included additional categories under the two-question format.
Following an intensive research, testing, and consultation process, OMB issued revised Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity in 1997.16 The updated directive retains a two-question format, includes separate categories for Asians and for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, emphasizes self-identification, and allows respondents to select more than one racial category. The 2010 census included several experimental panels to test different strategies that incorporate alternative wording and format for the questions on race and ethnicity, including a combined race and ethnicity question. The results have been analyzed,17 and additional research is planned during the next few years that could ultimately inform additional OMB guidance on categories for race and ethnicity.
THE 1997 ORDER PROVIDING FOR THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF STATISTICAL INFORMATION
An Order Providing for the Confidentiality of Statistical Information was issued by OMB in 1997.18 The order was designed to bolster the confidentiality
16Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg_1997standards [February 2013].
17Available: http://www.census.gov/2010census/pdf/2010_Census_Race_HO_AQE.pdf [February 2013].
18See June 27, 1997, Federal Register 62(124):35044–35050. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/information_and_regulatory_affairs/conf-order1.pdf [February 2013].
protections afforded by statistical agencies or units (as listed in the order), some of which lacked legal authority to back up their confidentiality protection. CIPSEA (see below) placed confidentiality protection for statistical information on a strong legal footing across the entire federal government.
THE 2002 CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION PROTECTION AND STATISTICAL EFFICIENCY ACT AND ASSOCIATED GUIDANCE
The Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) (Title V of the E-Government Act of 2002, P.L. 107-347) was landmark legislation to strengthen the statistical system with regard to confidentiality protection and data sharing. Enactment of CIPSEA was the culmination of more than 30 years of efforts to standardize and bolster legal protections for data collected solely for statistical purposes by federal agencies while permitting limited sharing of individually identifiable business information among three statistical agencies for efficiency and quality improvement. CIPSEA has two subtitles, A and B, covering confidentiality and sharing data.
Subtitle A—Protecting Confidentiality
Subtitle A of CIPSEA, Confidential Information Protection, strengthens and extends statutory confidentiality protection for all statistical data collections of the U.S. government. Prior to CIPSEA, such protection was governed by a patchwork of laws applicable to specific agencies, judicial opinions, and agencies’ practices. For all data furnished by individuals or organizations to an agency under a pledge of confidentiality for exclusively statistical purposes, Subtitle A 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.
Subtitle B—Sharing Data
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. Several data-sharing projects have been initiated under Subtitle B.
The subtitle does not permit sharing among BEA, BLS, and the Census Bureau of any individually identifiable tax return data that originate from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This limitation currently blocks some important kinds of business data sharing, such as those for sole proprietorships, for improving the efficiency and quality of business data collection by statistical agencies. For tax return information, data sharing is limited to a small number of items for specified uses by a small number of specific agencies (under Title 26, Section 6103 of the U.S. Code and associated Treasury Department regulations, as modified in the 1976 Tax Reform Act). The law provides access to specific tax return items by the Census Bureau for use in its population estimates program and economic census and survey programs, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service for conducting the Census of Agriculture, by the Congressional Budget Office for long-term models of the Social Security and Medicare programs, and by BEA for producing the National Income and Product Accounts. (Prior to the 1976 act, the President could issue an executive order authorizing access to tax records.) The governing statute would have to be modified to extend sharing of tax return items to agencies not specified in the 1976 legislation.
A proposal for legislation to expand access to IRS information for limited statistical purposes has been developed through interagency discussions: it would authorize the Bureau of Labor Statistics to receive limited business data from the Census Bureau (comingled with business tax information) for the purpose of synchronizing the two agencies’ business lists. It would also authorize BEA to receive business tax information for noncorporate businesses with receipts of more than $750,000, allowing BEA to improve the measurement of income and international transactions in the national accounts. This proposal has yet to be introduced as a bill in Congress.
OMB CIPSEA Guidance
OMB is charged to oversee and coordinate the implementation of CIPSEA; after a thorough interagency development and coordination process, OMB released final guidance in 2007.19 The guidance, which pertains to both Subtitles A and B, covers 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.
A key provision of the CIPSEA guidance defines statistical agencies or units, which are the only federal agencies that may assign agent status for confidentiality protection purposes to contractors, researchers, or others. The guidance defines a statistical agency or unit as “an agency or organizational unit of the executive branch whose activities are predominantly the collection, compilation, processing, or analysis of information for statistical purposes.” A total of 16 agencies are currently so recognized:
• Of the 16, 12 are those enumerated in OMB’s 1997 confidentiality order and named in the CIPSEA implementation guidance: the members of the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP) (see Appendix B), excluding the Office of Environmental Information in the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics in the Social Security Administration.
• In 2007, OMB recognized two more units that applied for designation under the procedures outlined in the guidance: the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality in the Office of Applied Studies in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services and the Microeconomic Surveys Statistical Unit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.
• Since 2007, two additional units have been recognized: the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics in the Social Security Administration
19See June 15, 2007, Federal Register 72(115):33362–33377. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/fedreg/2007/061507_cipsea_guidance.pdf [February 2013].
(a member of the ICSP), and the National Animal Health Monitoring System Program Unit in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in the Department of Agriculture.
THE 2002 E-GOVERNMENT ACT, SECTION 208
Section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002 requires federal agencies to conduct a privacy impact assessment whenever an agency develops or obtains information technology that handles individually identifiable information or whenever the agency initiates a new collection of individually identifiable information.20 The assessment 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, privacy impact assessments 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 the assessments, which was done in a memorandum from the OMB director to the heads of executive agencies and departments on September 26, 2003.21
Section 208, Title III (see below), and Title V (see above) are the latest in a series of laws dating back to 1974 that govern access to individual records maintained by the federal government. The Privacy Act of 1974 states in part:22
No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains.
There are specific exceptions allowing the use of personal records without prior consent for statistical purposes by the Census Bureau, for statistical research or reporting when the records are to be transferred in a form that is not individually identifiable, for routine uses within a U.S. government agency, for archival purposes “as a record which has sufficient
20Section 208 also mandates that OMB lead interagency efforts to improve federal information technology and use of the Internet for government services.
historical or other value to warrant its continued preservation by the United States Government,” for law enforcement purposes, for congressional investigations, and for other administrative purposes.
The Privacy Act mandates that every federal agency have in place an administrative and physical security system to prevent the unauthorized release of personal records; it also mandates that every agency publish in the Federal Register one or more system of records notices (SORNs) for newly created and revised systems of records that contain personally identifiable information as directed by OMB.23 SORNs are to describe not only the records and their uses by the agency, but also describe procedures for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system.24
THE 2002 FEDERAL INFORMATION SECURITY MANAGEMENT ACT
The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) was enacted in 2002 as Title III of the E-Government Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-347). The act was meant to bolster computer and network security in the federal government and affiliated parties (such as government contractors) by mandating yearly audits.
FISMA imposes a mandatory set of processes that must be followed for all information systems used or operated by a federal agency or by a contractor or other organization on behalf of a federal agency. These processes must follow a combination of Federal Information Processing Standards documents, the special publications issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (SP-800 series), and other legislation pertinent to federal information systems, such as the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
The first step is to determine what constitutes the “information system” in question. There is no direct mapping of computers to an information system; rather, an information system can be a collection of individual computers put to a common purpose and managed by the same system owner. The next step is to determine the types of information in the system and
24For an example of SORNs for a statistical agency, see http://www.census.gov/privacy/sorn/list_of_available_sorns.html# [February 2013].
categorize each according to the magnitude of harm that would result if the system suffered a compromise of confidentiality, integrity, or availability. Succeeding steps are to develop complete system documentation, conduct a risk assessment, put appropriate controls in place to minimize risk, and arrange for an assessment and certification of the adequacy of the controls.
FISMA affects federal statistical agencies directly in that each of them must follow the FISMA procedures for its own information system. In addition, some departments are taking the position that all information systems in a department constitute a single information system for purposes of FISMA: those departments are taking steps to require that statistical agencies’ information systems and personnel be incorporated into a centralized departmentwide system.
THE 2000 INFORMATION QUALITY ACT AND ASSOCIATED GUIDELINES
The Information Quality Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-554) directed OMB to issue government-wide guidelines that “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.” It also required federal agencies to develop their own implementing procedures, including “administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency.” After a public comment period, OMB issued government-wide guidelines on February 22, 2002.25 A few months later, 13 principal statistical agencies issued a notice outlining a common approach to the development and provision of guidelines for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of disseminated information.26 The notice directed people to the websites of each agency for more information and to learn how to comment on draft guidelines. Each agency then finalized its own guidelines.27 The information quality framework developed by the agencies was followed in the 2006 revision of OMB’s
25See February 22, 2002, Federal Register 67(36):8452–8460. Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/fedreg/reproducible2.pdf [February 2013].
26See June 4, 2002, Federal Register 67(107):38467–38470. Available: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2002-06-04/pdf/02-13892.pdf [February 2013].
27See, e.g., http://www.census.gov/quality/guidelines/index.html [February 2013].
standards and guidelines for statistical surveys (summarized in the section on “OMB Statistical Policy Directives,” on page 83).
2004 OMB PEER REVIEW GUIDANCE
Consistent with the 2000 Information Quality Act (P.L. 106-554), OMB developed guidance for federal agencies with regard to seeking peer review of the policy-relevant scientific information an agency disseminates. After two rounds of public comment, OMB issued the Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review on December 16, 2004 (hereafter referred to as the Bulletin): it requires federal agencies to conduct a peer review of “influential scientific information” before the information is released to the public.28 “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, 2004a:10). The Bulletin allows agencies discretion to select the type of peer review process most appropriate for a given scientific 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, 2004a:33); however, it does include research reports and nonroutine collections by statistical agencies that can be considered “influential scientific information.”
2010 GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE AND RESULTS MODERNIZATION ACT
On January 4, 2011, President Obama signed the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010.29 This act, which superseded the Performance Assessment Rating Tool and the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), requires performance assessment of government programs for purposes of evaluating agency
28Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/memoranda/fy2005/m05-03.pdf [February 2013].
29Available: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ352/pdf/PLAW-111publ352.pdf [February 2013].
performance and improvement. In carrying out the provisions of the act, the director of OMB coordinates with agencies to develop the federal government performance plan. The act requires, with few exceptions, all federal agencies to establish performance indicators to be used in measuring or assessing progress toward their identified performance goals and an objective, quantifiable, and measurable means by which to compare actual program results with these established performance goals. Additionally, each agency must describe how it will ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data used, including validation of measures, data sources, required level of accuracy, data limitations, and management of those limitations.
The broad scope of agencies affected by this act, and the use of the act in making budgetary decisions based on measured achievement toward program goals, has fostered added focus among many agencies on how to collect high quality data and produce sound government statistics with which to conduct rigorous program evaluation.
2009–2010 GUIDANCE ON SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY
In a memorandum on scientific integrity in March 2009, President Obama stated:30
The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions. If scientific and technological information is developed and used by the Federal Government, it should ordinarily be made available to the public. To the extent permitted by law, there should be transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policymaking. The selection of scientists and technology professionals for positions in the executive branch should be based on their scientific and technological knowledge, credentials, experience, and integrity.
The President directed the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a strategy to ensure scientific integrity in government decision making.
In response, the OSTP director issued a memorandum on December 17, 2010, that called for executive departments and agencies to develop
policies to “ensure a culture of scientific integrity,” “strengthen the actual and perceived credibility of Government research,” “facilitate the free flow of scientific and technological information, consistent with privacy and classification standards,” and “establish principles for conveying scientific and technological information to the public.”31 It included guidance on the selection of candidates for scientific positions, independent peer review, whistleblower protections, promoting access to scientific and technological information in online open formats, and agency communications. It also provided guidance on public communications, use of federal advisory committees, professional development of government scientists and engineers, and implementation.
Each statistical agency is covered by its department’s scientific integrity policies. In addition, the principal statistical agencies developed a Statement of Commitment to Scientific Integrity that documents in a single place their response to the OSTP memorandum. The statement articulates how the Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency, Fourth Edition (National Research Council, 2009c), various OMB statistical policy directives and standards, and each agency’s information quality guidelines together form “the foundation for achieving and maintaining scientific integrity within and among the principal statistical agencies.”32
31Available: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/scientific-integrity-memo-12172010.pdf [February 2013].
32Available: http://www.census.gov/aboutus/pdf/Scientific_Integrity_Statement_of_the_Principal_Statistical_Agencies.pdf [February 2013].