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Rules for Ensuring the Quality of Data Disseminated by Federal Agencies

Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President


Substantial portions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 concern measures to ensure the accuracy, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated by virtually all Federal agencies. This matter assumes more importance as time passes and Federal agencies disseminate larger quantities of information via the Internet. To implement the purposes of the Act, OMB was given responsibility for exercising oversight and issuing rules that would provide guidance to agencies for issuance of their own rules. ( 3516) As of late 1998, no visible action had been taken by OMB in developing the rules called for by the Act, and in the reports accompanying the Omnibus Appropriations Act for fiscal year 1999 (Oct. 1, 1998 to Sept. 30, 1999), Congress, through the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate-House conference committee, urged OMB to proceed with the development of the rules called for by the Act. The pertinent portion of the House report, which was later incorporated into the conference report, follows:

"RELIABILITY AND DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION

The committee urges the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop, with public and Federal agency involvement, rules providing 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, and information disseminated by non-Federal entities with financial support from the Federal government, in fulfillment of the purposes and provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995(P.L. 104-18). The Committee expects issuance of these rules by September 30, 1999. The OMB rules shall also cover the sharing of, and access to, the aforementioned data and information, by members of the public. Such OMB rules shall require Federal agencies to develop, within one year and with public participation, their own rules consistent with the OMB rules. The OMB and agency rules shall contain administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to petition for correction of information which does not comply with such rules; and the OMB rules shall contain provisions requiring the agencies to report to OMB periodically regarding the number and nature of petitions or complaints regarding Federal, or Federally-supported, information dissemination, and how such petitions and complaints were handled. OMB shall report to the Committee on the status of implementation of these directives no later than September 30, 1999."

House report 105-592 (at 49-50). As of April 6, 1999, there is no indication of OMB action to develop these rules.