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Office of Management and Budget
News Release



OMB Releases Quality of Information Guidelines

Washington, 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 OMB’s 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.


OIRA’s 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 public comment.


The guidelines are attached.


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