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How OMB Data Quality Regulations Will Help Resolve Disputes Over Global Warming

Leave a Comment The Need for Better Quality Control Over Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in the Executive Office of the President, to issue quality control regulations to govern Federal agencies' information-related activities, including dissemination of information to the public. OMB has not issued such regulations. Congress recently urged OMB to issue such regulations by September 30, 1999.

CRE has drafted the following report that illustrates why such regulations are needed, including a mechanism that affected persons could use to petition Federal agencies to correct poor-quality information. The report is a case study of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Internet site on "Global Warming". The report does not address -- nor take a position on -- the merits of the science regarding global warming and global climate change.

Instead, the report addresses how EPA presents the available body of science to the public on the EPA Web site. The report concerns both: (1) the quality of information per se, and (2) the quality of EPA's presentation (including omission) of significant available information.

The report demonstrates that there is inadequate quality control regarding both the substance of the information and how EPA presents it on the EPA Website. The report examines examples where EPA provides the public with information that is inaccurate, incomplete, or presented selectively or out of context. For each example, the report demonstrates why the information as presented by EPA is erroneous or misleading and in need of correction. It includes pertinent information or statements from the report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 1995), but which EPA does not present, or downplays, on its Website.

CRE believes that this case study is representative of quality control problems that affect numerous federal agencies' dissemination of data and information, and that it illustrates the need for OMB to issue government-wide Data Quality control regulations, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

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