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Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554) directed the U.S. 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." Information, as defined by OMB, includes any communication or representation of knowledge, such as facts or data, in any medium or form, including textual, numerical, graphic, cartographic, narrative, or audiovisual forms. Dissemination refers to any distribution of information to the public that is initiated or sponsored by a federal agency. (OMB, Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies, February 22, 2002, 67 FR 8452-8460).
In summary, OMB's guidelines, issued on February 22, 2002, direct agencies to:
- Develop and implement their own agency-specific information quality guidelines by October 1, 2002;
- Adopt a basic standard of quality (including objectivity, utility, and integrity) as a performance goal and incorporate the standard into the agency's operations;
- Develop a process for reviewing the quality of information to ensure quality before information is disseminated;
- Establish a process for affected persons to request correction of information that may not comply with OMB's or the agency's guidelines; and
- Report annually to the Director of OMB, beginning January 1, 2004, the number and nature of complaints received by the agency regarding the agency's compliance with its guidelines concerning the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, and how such complaints were resolved.