The Report of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) on the Oversight of Federal Databases

ACUS, at its recent plenary session, released a report titled Agency Information Dissemination in the Internet ERA. The report is the first step in informing federal agencies and the public of the need to exercise oversight over some of the 200,000 databases published on federal websites—content stored away in the darkest corners of the regulatory state.

An earlier ACUS staff report correctly identified that the mechanism of choice for such an oversight of federal databases is the Data [Information] Quality Act. (DQA). The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness prepared detailed comments in support of the draft and also explained in detail the social costs of not adopting the earlier draft.

ACUS should initiate a subsequent project along the lines of the aforementioned staff draft with particular emphasis on the impact Harkonen v. DOJ and OMB will have on both future judicial challenges and Requests for Correction made under the DQA particularly with respect to incorrect information contained in  federal databases. CRE also prepared an Analysis of Harkonen which was augmented by another filing with ACUS.

The public, the regulated community and an array of stakeholders are awakening to the need for accuracy in federal databases and ACUS should remain in front of this wave.


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