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Data Quality

Leave a Comment OMB to Begin Implementing New Data Quality Law

   CRE is pleased to announce that Congress has passed and the President has signed important new Data Quality legislation as part of the FY 2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 106-554 section 515). Building upon the Data Quality report language contained in the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act (Public Law 105-277), this new provision requires OMB to develop government-wide standards for the quality of information used and disseminated by the federal government, with such standards to be completed not later than September 30, 2001. OMB must also include a mechanism through which the interested public can petition agencies to correct information which does not meet the OMB standard. Congress has provided for broad input in developing the Data Quality standard, mandating that OMB shall seek "public and Federal agency involvement."

   In implementing the Data Quality provision, the Act directs OMB to issue guidelines for Data Quality which define four key terms "quality," "objectivity," "utility," and "integrity"-- and for other federal agencies to issue their own conforming guidelines within one year of the issuance of the OMB guidelines. In addition, agencies are to report periodically to the Director of OMB regarding the number and nature of Data Quality complaints received by the agency and how such complaints were handled.

   CRE believe that the Data Quality provision represents a significant advancement of Good Government principles. Since government information routinely serves as the basis for regulation and resource allocation, it is imperative that the information on which the government bases these decision be accurate and valid. CRE believes that the new Data Quality provisions will further this goal by promoting transparency, the use of sound science, and formulation of rational regulatory policy.

   CRE plans to heed the call of Congress by staying actively involved in the Data Quality issue during the implementation phase of these important provisions. CRE will offer its insights and assistance to OMB as it drafts its generic Data Quality guidance and to the agencies as they prepare their conforming guidelines.

  • Click here to read the Statutory Language of the Data Quality law.
  • Click here to read the sections of the Paperwork Reduction Act referenced in the new Data Quality legislation.
  • Click here to read past congressional report language for Data Quality (FY 1999).

Statutory Language for Data Quality

FY 2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 106-554)

Sec. 515. (a) In General. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall, by not later than September 30, 2001, and with public and Federal agency involvement, issue guidelines under sections 3504(d)(1) and 3516 of title 44, United States Code, 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 in fulfillment of the purposes and provisions of chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code, commonly referred to as the Paperwork Reduction Act.

(b) Content of Guidelines. The guidelines under subsection (a) shall

(1) apply to the sharing by Federal agencies of, and access to, information disseminated by Federal agencies; and

(2) require that each Federal agency to which the guidelines apply

(A) issue guidelines ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency, by not later than 1 year after the date of issuance of the guidelines under subsection (a);

(B) establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines issued under subsection (a); and

(C) report periodically to the Director

(i) the number and nature of complaints received by the agency regarding the accuracy of information disseminated by the agency; and

(ii) how such complaints were handled by the agency.

Paperwork Reduction Act References in the Data Quality Law

As quoted above, section 515 of the new Data Quality law notes that its provisions are in furtherance of certain key provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). The following are the PRA referenced in the Data Quality law.

3501. Purposes

"The purposes of this chapter are to

. . .

(2) ensure the greatest possible public benefit from and maximize the utility of information ... disseminated by or for the Federal Government;

. . .

(4) improve the quality and use of Federal information to strengthen decisionmaking, accountability, and openness in Government and society;

. . .

(7) provide for the dissemination of public information on a timely basis, on equitable terms, and in a manner that promotes the utility of the information to the public and makes effective use of information technology;

. . .

(9) ensure the integrity, quality, and utility of the Federal statistical system;

. . .

(11) improve the responsibility and accountability of the Office of Management and Budget and all other Federal agencies to Congress and to the public for implementing the ... policies and guidelines established under this chapter."

3504. Authority and functions of the Director

. . .

"(d) With respect to information dissemination, the Director shall develop and oversee the implementation of policies, principles, standards, and guidelines to

(1) apply to Federal agency dissemination of public information, regardless of the form or format in which such information is disseminated; ...."

3516. Rules and regulations

"The Director shall promulgate rules, regulations, or procedures necessary to exercise the authority provided by this chapter."

Past Report Language for Data Quality

   The following report language for Data Quality accompanied the FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act (Public Law 105-277) and served as the genesis of the current Data Quality law.

Conference Report Joint Explanatory Statement

(Cong. Rec. 10/19/98, H. 11508, 1st col.)

"The conference agreement on the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999, incorporates some of the language and allocations set forth in House Report 105-592 and Senate Report 105-251. The language in these reports should be complied with unless specifically addressed in the accompanying statement of managers."

House Report 105-592 (at 49-50)

"Reliability and Dissemination of Information

The committee urges the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop, with public and Federal agency involvement, rules providing 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, and information disseminated by non-Federal entities with financial support from the Federal government, in fulfillment of the purposes and provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-13). The Committee expects issuance of these rules by September 30, 1999. The OMB rules shall also cover the sharing of, and access to, the aforementioned data and information, by members of the public. Such OMB rules shall require Federal agencies to develop, within one year and with public participation, their own rules consistent with the OMB rules. The OMB and agency rules shall contain administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to petition for correction of information which does not comply with such rules; and the OMB rules shall contain provisions requiring the agencies to report to OMB periodically regarding the number and nature of petitions or complaints regarding Federal, or Federally-supported, information dissemination, and how such petitions and complaints were handled. OMB shall report to the Committee on the status of implementation of these directives no later than September 30, 1999."