Overview of Data Quality Act and Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Data Quality Act and Regulatory Flexibility Act are two other federal statutes that can be used to require accountability of the federal agencies during the coordination process.  These statutes do not require coordination themselves, rather they call upon the agencies to provide and substantiate the quality of the material they are basing their decisions upon, and to review the economic impact on small entities.

Data Quality Act

The "Data Quality Act" is a name which we have given to a two paragraph statute which was included in a budget appropriations bill. The two paragraphs, as part of the appropriations bill had no specific and separate name. 

The paragraphs which are set forth in the following section required the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidelines to all federal agencies to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information used in making their decisions.  The information was specifically to include statistics.

The OMB issued its guidelines as ordered. They require every federal agency to prepare and follow Data Quality Guidelines.  When data is of concern, when you believe that a decision has been made on faulty or incorrect data, look up the guidelines of the agency making the decision which govern its data quality insurance.

The coordinating local government can then call on the agency to verify its data in accord with its own guidelines. This statute provides one of the most effective tools available to coordinating local governments.

The coordinating local government can challenge the quality of the data, and in that way determine the specific data upon which the agency has relied, and test the accuracy and soundness of that data.

The process is simple to execute. When the agency has made a decision and you are suspicious of the data on which the decision is based, you simply by letter request that the agency disclose to you the data upon which the decision is based and disclose to you the quality check which they have run on the data pursuant to their data quality guidelines; plus you ask for their data quality guidelines.

When they comply, it gives you a chance to see the specific data and determine the validity of the data to base the decision. If they do not comply, then you follow their guidelines as to how you appeal their refusal. Remember, this is different from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This is not a request for production of documents subject to FOIA. This is a request pursuant to the Data Quality Act pursuant to Office of Management and Budget and the Agency guidelines. FOIA charges do not apply.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires the federal agency to conduct an analysis of any rule or regulation which it issues to determine any adverse impact on small "units" which include small local government units of less than 50,000 in population. If there is a rule or regulation, or its implementation that is being used to plague you as a county, city, town or district or your constituents, simply request to see a copy of the agency's flexibility study as required by the statute.

In the Federal Register notice when a  rule or regulation is published, the agencies usually include a notation that they have complied with this statute, however, rarely is this the case.  To do so is time consuming.  Therefore, requesting to see their analysis often reveals they have not complied with the law in regards to this statute.