of Management and Budget
Releases Quality of Information Guidelines
DC, September 27, 2001 -- The Office of Management and Budget
today released final guidelines aimed at improving the quality
of information that federal agencies use and disseminate to the
public. These guidelines, issued by OMBs Office of Information
and Regulatory Affairs, apply to facts, statistics, and technical
information used by government officials and the public. OMB's
action today was made pursuant to a Congressional requirement
in the FY 2001 Treasury-Postal appropriations bill. The guidelines,
originally proposed by Representative Jo Ann Emerson, R, MO, will
take effect on October 1, 2002.
Administrator Dr. John Graham said, "The OMB guidelines released
today set in motion a long term management process aimed at establishing
greater accountability for the quality of data that the government
uses and disseminates to the public."
- The scope
of these guidelines is quite broad (e.g., including basic health,
financial, economic, and environmental information). However,
OMB's guidance also calls for each Federal Agency to develop specific
guidelines that are tailored to the types of information produced
by that agency. OMB will review each agency's guidelines, which
are scheduled for completion over the next year.
- The OMB
and agency guidelines, taken together, could have a far-reaching
impact on how agencies collect, use and manage information since
the guidelines call for quality concerns to be built into basic
agency management systems. The guidelines are being issued not
only to improve data quality, but also to establish consistent
procedures for agencies to use in handling inquiries regarding
the quality of Federal information. Thus, agencies are required
to provide concerned citizens with an administrative mechanism
to identify problems and seek corrective action. In addition,
agencies are required to report annually to OMB the number of
citizen complaints and their responses to them.
- The quality
of information, as defined by Congress and refined by OMB guidance
includes the related concepts of objectivity, utility and integrity.
In lay terms, objectivity is related to accuracy, utility to usefulness
to the public, and integrity to security, privacy, and confidentiality.
Agencies are expected to develop managerial systems that will
advance each of these dimensions of quality, though OMB guidance
recognizes that the cost of quality control must be considered
and the desired level of quality must be tailored to the intended
use of the information.
- OMB's final
guidelines were revised from their draft form in response to numerous
comments from the business, science, and public interest communities.
Comments were also obtained by all affected agencies and agency
Chief Information Officers. One portion of the guidelines, concerning
a requirement that important technical information be "reproducible",
will be adopted only in interim form, in order to make sure that
practical concerns about this guideline have been fully vetted.
An additional 30-day comment period is provided on the "reproducibility"
criterion, which OMB has narrowed considerably in response to
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