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Soundings Archive

Happy Birthday Wishes to the Data Quality Act
December 21, 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the Data Quality Act (DQA), also known as the Information Quality Act, 44 U.S.C 3516, note.

The DQA has deep roots developed over nearly a half-century as the result of a seed planted during the Johnson Administration which germinated in the Nixon Administration, was watered by the Carter Administration and whose product was harvested by the Reagan Administration, made available to the public in the Bush I Administration and subsequently enhanced by the Clinton Administration and promoted by the Bush II and Obama Administrations. See here and here.

The DQA was made possible by two crucial precursor actions: 1) establishment of a centralized regulatory review process; and 2) a statutory grant of authority to the Office of Management and Budget to manage the centralized regulatory review process.

The DQA recognizes the emergence of the internet as the primary means for federal information disseminations including publication of reports and other documents. Even though these publications are not the result of a rulemaking process they often have a material impact on persons and organizations; that is to say the reports constitute regulation by information and prior to the passage of the DQA they were not reviewable by the courts -- an issue currently in play.

To counter agency use of the internet as a backdoor Federal Register the DQA requires data in federal reports and regulations to be reproducible and unbiased , prohibits the introduction of policy into scientific risk assessments and allows any affected member of the public to seek correction of data disseminated by federal agencies.

The alleged shortcoming of the DQA was that it was born out of wedlock; namely that it was not subject to Congressional hearings. In that the DQA was included in an omnibus spending bill, as it the case with every element in such bills, it was not subject to hearings.

However, the language that was included as the DQA in the omnibus spending bill was subject to extensive hearings as part of the appropriation process going back to as early as June , 1998 -- please click here to see.

OMB continued to reject numerous Congressional requests to issue the DQA regulations mandated by the 1995 Paperwork Reduction Act. Finally the Congress passed the DQA legislation after receiving a letter from OMB on April 18, 2000 which denied all their requests to issue DQA regulations.

Lastly, concerns that the DQA would lead to onerous demands on federal agencies proved to be unfounded.

For a chronological history of the DQA see the website DataQualityAct.US which is also accessible through the CRE website.

See "A Decade of the Data Quality Act".

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