OMB Data Quality Standards (1-25-05)
In an effort to ensure that information released by the US Government
is accurate, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Guidelines on February 22, 2002. These were In accordance with
the Data Quality Act (Section 515 of Public Law 106-554) OMB issued
guidelines to promote "the quality, objectivity, utility, and
integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated
by Federal agencies.'' The OMB also directed all federal agencies
to draft their own guidelines to correct information that did not
comply with those released by OMB by October 1, 2002. Of particular
interest to the geoscience community are scientific findings promulgated
by federal agencies.
Legislation is expected to be introduced and considered
by the 109th Congress in the near future. Please check back soon for
On December 17th the White House Office of Management and Budget
issued "peer review" guidelines aimed at formalizing the
process of science performed by government agencies undergoing outside
review. Science used by the U.S. EPA, the Department of the Interior,
the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies to support
major rules and regulations will be subject to review by non-governmental
experts for the first time under these new standards.
According to Greenwire, supporters of the guidelines -- in the Bush
Administration and industry -- say that the guidelines will help ensure
that federal policy is shaped by sound scientific practices. But critics
claim the guidelines are an effort by the executive branch to seize
control of the release of scientific information and slow the creation
of new federal rules.
The guidelines separate scientific information meriting peer review
into two types. The first requires federal agencies to appoint an
independent peer review panel for science supporting rules or policies
costing industry, states or local governments more than $500 million
in any year. While this is a higher cost threshold than industry officials
wanted, Sean Moulton, a information policy analyst at OMB Watch, said
OMB can effectively order an agency review by designating this type
of science "highly influential." The second type of science
affected by the guidelines is "influential scientific information,"
such as risk assessments, environmental and natural resources computer
modeling, data and other technical analyses. Agencies can subject
these types of scientific information to the same rigorous peer review
as highly influential science or they can get them peer reviewed by
a small group of experts in one environmental or natural resources
Agencies can subject influential scientific information to the lower
level of peer review, but the guidelines direct agencies to "choose
a peer review mechanism that is adequate" based on a variety
of factors including whether science is new, the extent of prior peer
reviews, and the expected costs and benefits that will result from
its use. "More rigorous peer review is necessary for information
that is based on novel methods or presents complex challenges for
interpretation," the rule states.
Greenwire reported that the White House substantially revised the
guidelines since they were first proposed in September 2003 (see http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/dataquality.html).
Among the changes is a proposal that would grant federal agencies
the right to release scientific documents about an "emerging
public health or medical risk" without first getting OMB approval.
Another change OMB made was to make clear that science already reviewed
by the National Academy of Sciences is not subject to the peer review
The new guidelines can be found online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/inforeg/peer2004/peer_bulletin.pdf.
The Federal Information Quality Act
From the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness:
"Federal agencies regularly publish information on which influential
policies or decisions are made that have significant impact on the
economy of a region or even the entire nation or that can influence
wrong decisions about public and private investments, opportunities
and other issues. States, cities, counties, as well as private and
public organizations, and citizens in general have had difficulties
getting the federal agencies to either substantiate the information
published or correct the information to ensure its quality. Martha
Lynn Craver in her recent Kiplinger Report stated that "for years,
regulated industries have complained that too often, regulations cannot
be backed up by solid data."
In response to the public's concerns, Congress issued the Information
Quality Act OMB Section 515. This act directs the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) to issue government-wide guidelines that "provide
policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and
maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility and integrity of information
(including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies."
Effective October 1, 2002, Federal agencies must have in place their
own implementing guidelines that include "administrative mechanisms
allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information
maintained and disseminated by the agency" that does not comply
with the OMB guidelines. These guidelines require the agencies to
provide annual reports on the number and nature of complaints and
how the complaints were handled beginning January 2004.
OMB defines information "quality" as information that
offers utility, objectivity and integrity to information consumers
where: OMB defines information "quality" as information
that offers utility, objectivity and integrity to information consumers
- Utility is the usefulness of the disseminated information to
the intended consumers.
- Objectivity is that the disseminated information is presented
in an accurate, clear, complete and unbiased manner and, as a matter
of substance, is accurate, reliable and unbiased.
- Integrity refers to security: the protection of information from
unauthorized access or revision (modification) to ensure that the
information is not compromised through corruption or falsification.
Agencies must define these terms in a rigorous, operational fashion
to ensure that they have a shared understanding with their customers
of the information provided."
For online access to the agency specific OMB guidelines go to the
for Regulatory Effectiveness Website
Sources: The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, Greenwire, White
House Office of Management and Budget.
Contributed by David R. Millar 2004 AGI/AAPG Fall Semester Intern
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Last updated on January 25, 2005.