Statistics in the News: Chapter
3 Finding Existing Data: From Print to the
Furor Over the Data Quality Act
The Data Quality Act, signed in the
waning days of the Clinton administration and not even
scheduled to go into effect until October 1, 2002, has many
people upset. The law requires the government for the first
time to set standards for the quality of data disseminated by
federal agencies. It is to create a system in every government
agency under which anyone can point out errors in documents.
If the complaints are borne out, the agency will have to
expunge the data from government Web sites and
publications.Opponents of the new law
are worried. While nobody, presumably, wants the government to
issue flawed data, the new process, they say, could undermine
valid regulations and stifle government efforts to convey
information on, say, climate change or cancer risks.
One group favoring the law, the Center for
Regulatory Effectiveness, has already used the law to request
a withdrawal of a report on global warming. It argues that the
government's assessment is alarmist and based on flawed
computer models. "With a government-set yardstick for
quality," says James J. Tozzi, the group's founder, "critics
of regulations can now build more convincing cases showing
that an agency was arbitrary and capricious in its choice of
data….It's the information age. Now in the world's most
powerful government you're going to have to issue information
Source: Adapted from Andrew C. Revkin,
"Law Revises Standards for Scientific Study," The New York
Times, March 21, 2002, p. A24.
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