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Data Access

House Initiates Action on Data Access

Consistent with the recommendations of CRE, the House incorporated a provision in the FY 1999 Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act (H.R. 4104) designed to provide public access to data developed with federal funding. The Senate has followed the House's lead regarding this Data Access measure, and relevant language has been included in the conference report related to this legislation.

CRE strongly supports and anticipates passage of this important provision for data sharing that will permit a more open and scientifically rigorous review of taxpayer-supported data.

  • Read about the House Bill 4104 and House Report 105-592 (June 22, 1998)
  • Read the Senate Bill 2312 and Senate Report 105-251 (July 15, 1998)
  • Read the Conference Report 105-789 (October 7, 1998)
  • Read CRE's Legislative Working Papers on Data Access and Data Quality.

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    House Bill 4104 and House Report 105-592 (June 22, 1998)

    On June 22, 1998, the FY 1999 Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act (H.R. 4104) was reported in the House, accompanied by House Report No. 105-592. The House report contained important provisions designed to ensure the quality of federal government information and public access to federally-funded data.

    House Report No. 105-592 states at pages 49-50:


    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 provision of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (P.L. 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.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Senate Bill 2312 and Senate Report 105-251 (July 15, 1998)

    On July 15, 1998, the Senate introduced its own version of the FY 1999 Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act (S. 2312), which was accompanied by Senate Report No. 105-251. Both of the Senate bill and report also contained Data Access language.

    S. 2312 states in relevant part:

    Office of Management and Budget


    . . . Provided further, That the Director of OMB submit a report within 180 days of enactment to the Senate Committee on Appropriations: (1) evaluating the implementation of specific government-wide procedures for making federally funded research results (including all underlying data and supplementary materials) available as appropriate to the public unless such research results are currently protected from disclosure under current law; and (2) make a determination based on this evaluation for the need for additional or revised guidance.

    Senate Report No. 105-251 states in relevant part:


    An issue of growing concern to the Committee is the public's lack of access to Government funded research data despite existing statutory and administration guidelines mandating increased access. The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 requests the Director of OMB to 'foster greater sharing, dissemination, and access to public information.' OMB Circular 110, subpart C, is even more specific, stating that unless specifically waived, Federal agencies 'have the right *** to obtain, reproduce, publish or otherwise use the data first produced under and award.' Unfortunately, these policies directives are not being implemented on a systematic basis. Although the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Public Health Service, and the National Science Foundation currently implement data sharing policies in order to permit wider assessment of the validity of the research results and to facilitate broader public understanding, other Federal agencies do not. Given the prevalent use of Government funded research data in developing regulations and Federal policy, it is important that such data be made available to other interested Federal agencies and to the public on a routine basis for independent scientific evaluation and confirmation.

    Conference Report 105-789 (October 7, 1998)

    The House and Senate versions of the FY 1999 Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act were merged in H.R. 4104 on September 3 (legislative day, August 31) 1998. At this point, the text of H.R. 4104 incorporated the Senate language related to Data Access.

    However, the bill was ultimately sent to a Conference Committee to resolve any differences between the House and Senate versions of the Act. Conference Report 105-789 embraced not only the statutory provisions for Data Access, but also incorporated the provisions in the House and Senate Reports discussed above.

    Conference Report 105-789 provides in relevant part:

    Office of Management and Budget


    . . . Provided further, That the Director of OMB amends Section XX.36 of OMB Circular A-110 to require Federal awarding agencies to ensure that all data produced under an award will be made available to the public through the procedures established under the Freedom of Information Act: Provided further, That if the agency obtaining the data does so solely at the request of a private party, the agency may authorize a reasonable user fee equaling the incremental cost of obtaining the data....

    The Conference Report Joint Explanatory Statement (Congressional Record 10/19/98, 11508, 1st col.) further provides:

    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.