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Letter from CRE to to EPA on its March 22, 1999 memorandum to Administrator

September 28, 1999

Ms. Margaret N. Schneider
Associate Deputy Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Waterside Mall, Room 1222
401 M Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Mr. Alvin M. Pesachowitz
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management
Waterside Mall, Room 1111
401 M Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Ms. Schneider and Mr. Pesachowitz:

The FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 105-277) requires OMB to amend Circular A-110 to ensure that data produced under federal awards be made available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. Congress also directed OMB to develop guidance for the federal agencies to ensure the validity of the information used and disseminated by the federal government, including a mechanism allowing the public to petition for correction of information.

The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness has been actively involved in implementation of the above two congressional directives, which we refer to as "Data Access" and "Data Quality", respectively. I am therefore writing to offer my strong support for EPA's efforts on these issues. I note in this regard your March 22, 1999 memorandum to Administrator Browner, which discusses the framework and early action projects for EPA's new Information Office.

About CRE

CRE was established in 1996, after the passage of the Congressional Review Act, to provide Congress with independent analyses of agency regulations. From this initial organizing concept, CRE has grown into a nationally recognized clearinghouse for methods to improve the federal regulatory process. CRE has no members, but it receives, from time to time, financial support, services in kind, and work product from trade associations and private firms. The CRE Advisory Board consists of former career officials from OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The CRE Website,, is designed to promote sound public policy and regulation by facilitating interaction between government, industry, organized groups, and the interested public. The Website encourages dialogue by reporting on various regulations and other issues with the potential for regulatory action. CRE also identifies opportunities for formal public comment on these issues, as announced in the Federal Register and elsewhere.

CRE believes that open communication between regulators and other interested parties is essential to the drafting and implementation of the best possible regulations. CRE therefore has introduced the concept of the "Interactive Public Docket" which allows continual debate of proposed regulations even after the close of formal agency public comment periods.

CRE Activities Related to Data Access/Data Quality

Due to the importance of Data Access and Data Quality to government policy formulation, regulation, and resource allocation, CRE has undertaken efforts to promote the quality of information used and disseminated by the federal government. CRE has closely followed the implementation of the Data Access provisions incorporated in P.L. 105-277. Following completion of OMB's revisions to Circular A-110, individual agencies will draft their own Data Access regulations in conformity with the OMB rule, and CRE intends to take an active role in this process.

In terms of Data Quality, Congress has called for OMB to issue regulations to ensure the "quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity" of information the federal government disseminates, and directed that a petition process be established allowing the public to request that agencies review and correct information not complying with OMB's rules.

The CRE Website contains dozens of pertinent documents on the Data Access and Data Quality issues, including the text of the proposed OMB revisions to Circular A-110, CRE's 80-page set of Data Access comments to OMB, and an extensive Data Quality examination of EPA's Global Warming Website. We encourage you to visit the CRE Website to obtain additional information.

Data Access/Data Quality Issues and the EPA Information Office

In light of your March memorandum, I am encouraged by the progress EPA plans to make regarding access to and quality of agency information through the activities of the EPA Information Office. I agree that reaching out to a variety of interested parties is essential. I also support the establishment of a Quality Board, with direct responsibility for this critical aspect of agency information policy.

I recommend that EPA's Information Office consider the following additional tasks:

  1. Begin work on drafting conforming regulations on Data Access, in order to minimize implementation time once OMB finalizes its revision to Circular A-110.
  2. Begin drafting regulations on Data Quality. This would allow EPA to be ahead of the curve and to take a leadership role on Data Quality by assisting OMB as it drafts its regulations.

CRE has developed considerable expertise in both of these areas, and we would be pleased to work with EPA staff on the above projects. In particular, we would like to stay in contact with you and the Information Office as you move forward on these Data Access and Data Quality initiatives. We would also like to post such activities and developments on our Website to lead and assist other agencies. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these issues in further detail.

Thank you for your consideration. I wish you every success as you launch the Information Office.


Charles J. Fromm
Executive Director