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The Most Important Court Decision You Never Heard Of
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has quietly affirmed the ability of the public to hold their government accountable. Specifically, the court effectively held that agency decisions under the Data Quality Act (aka the Information Quality Act) are subject to judicial review.

The DQA gives affected persons to right to "seek and obtain" correction of information disseminated by federal agencies which does not meet OMB's standards for quality, objectivity, utility and integrity. Similarly, agencies may not rely on or utilize third-party data not meeting those same standards. The law provides for an administrative petition process to resolve Data Quality complaints. The question as to whether courts can review agency DQA decisions to ensure they do not violate federal procedural requirements has, until now, been a disputed issue.

In Prime Time Int'l Co. v. Vilsack, the D.C. Circuit: 1) stated that OMB guidelines implementing the DQA are "binding;" and 2) cited the portion of the Supreme Court's Mead decision which discussed the authority of agencies to "make rules carrying the force of law" in explaining its statement about OMB's binding DQA rules. Moreover, by rejecting Prime Time's DQA complaint on the grounds that their petition did not comply with OMB's guidelines, which overturned the District Court's grounds for rejecting the DQA claim, the court asserted its jurisdiction over agency DQA decisions.

The most immediate implication of the decision may be for the Americans for Safe Access medical marijuana DQA case pending in the 9th Circuit.

The most significant implication of the decision will not be found in any court, it will be the enhanced seriousness with which agencies consider DQA Requests for Correction. The Prime Time decision is cause for regulatory watchdogs everywhere to rejoice.

See Prime Time Int'l Co. v. Vilsack decision

See D.C. Circuit Beats 9th Circuit to the Punch

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