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The DQA and DoD Spending
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a "nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms" recently sent a letter to Congress regarding the Defense Department's "stewardship for how it expends hundreds of billions of dollars each year to procure services from contractors." The POGO letter stated, "Without reliable and accurate data, how can Congress exercise its responsibility to hold DoD accountable for complying with requirements for submitting accurate budget requests?"

While POGO's question is valid, their method of addressing it is questionable. More specifically, POGO is overlooking the statutory tool Congress provided the public with for the very purpose of correcting inaccurate, unreliable agency data, the Data Quality Act.

In a blog posting POGO states, that after reviewing materials, "POGO found inconsistencies in DoD's claims about making cost-efficient policy and human capital decisions."

POGO also stated that their view that "there need to be improvements in comparative cost modeling and service contracting data in order to control costs and protect taxpayers." POGO should recognize that modeling is addressed in OMB's government-wide DQA guidelines. In the guidelines OMB explains that, "'objectivity' involves a focus on ensuring accurate, reliable, and unbiased information. In a scientific, financial, or statistical context, the original and supporting data shall be generated, and the analytic results shall be developed, using sound statistical and research methods." Other sections of the binding guidance deal specifically with models and reproducibility.

If POGO has good cause to claim that DoD's information disseminations do not meet OMB and agency quality standards of objectivity, utility and integrity, then the watchdog organization should make their case through a Request for Correction under the DQA. The DQA has already demonstrated .html itself to be an effective tool watchdogs can use to correct the quality of federal information.

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