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®: CRE Regulatory Action of the Week

The Data Quality Petition Process is Broken: The Need for Judicial Review

In a paper discussing domestic employment in the sugar industry, the International Trade Administration stated that the “U.S. sugar program helps to maintain approximately 2,260...sugar industry jobs, many of which are growing and harvesting jobs....” The original source for the ITA estimate was a 1994 study by the International Institute of Economics (IIE) which explicitly stated that the jobs estimate considered non-cane refining “workers in processing plants only.”

In correspondence to CRE, the IIE study authors confirmed that their estimate of jobs saved by the sugar program “does not reflect growing and harvesting. It reflects only processing.” Thus, ITA materially mis-characterized the data disseminated in their paper by incorrectly claiming that the jobs saved estimate included growing and harvesting jobs.

CRE filed a Data Quality petition with ITA requesting that the agency correct their report to accurately reflect their source data. ITA declined. Instead of addressing the specific factual misrepresentation in their paper, the agency cited unspecified USDA studies and claimed that the IIE studies authors are satisfied that the ITA use of the “jobs number is not inconsistent with the conclusions of their study.” Put simply, the agency dodged the subject of CRE’s request for correction – ITA’s misrepresentation of their source data.

ITA’s ability to ignore the substance of a Data Quality petition demonstrates the need for judicial review of agency decisions. In any forthcoming litigation, the Bush Administration should concede that the DQA is judicially reviewable and limit its litigation response to the merits of the complaint.

See CRE Data Quality Petition

See initial ITA Response to CRE

See subsequent ITA Response to CRE