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Information Quality Guidelines

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Consistent with the guidance from OMB, the Department of Education's Information Quality Guidelines (Guidelines) described below reflect the Department's policy and procedures for reviewing and substantiating the quality of information it disseminates, (e.g., reports, studies, and summaries), as well as provide an administrative mechanism allowing affected persons to seek and obtain, where appropriate, correction of information not complying with the Guidelines. These Guidelines, along with those issued by OMB, represent a performance goal for the Department and are intended only to improve the internal management of the Department. They do not create any private right of action to be used by any party against the government in a court of law or in an administrative hearing.

The Guidelines are applicable to information that the Department of Education disseminates on or after October 1, 2002, including the review of information to ensure quality before it is disseminated to the public. Some previously released information products continue to be used for decision-making or are relied upon by the Department and the public as official, authoritative, government information; this information is, in effect, constantly being re-disseminated and are thus subject to these Guidelines. Previously released information products that do not meet these criteria are considered archived information and thus are not subject to these Guidelines.

In addition, individual offices within the Department of Education may have more detailed guidelines that are tailored to specific information needs. An example of program-specific guidelines are the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Statistical Standards, which may be accessed at the following url: Other individual offices within the Department of Education also may develop guidelines tailored to their specific needs; however, individual office guidelines would be consistent with the Department of Education Guidelines described below.

Under these Guidelines, information disseminated by the Department of Education is divided into four categories:

  • General Information about Education Programs, such as fact sheets, descriptions of programs and services and guidance on who is eligible and how and where to apply for services or assistance. General information might also include public service reports on evaluations of specific programs and services, and descriptions of findings.
  • Research Studies and Program Evaluation Information, such as detailed reports of research findings and methodologies and technical reports describing the procedures employed and the results of program evaluations.
  • Administrative and Program Data, such as aggregates of records from schools, school districts, and states.
  • Statistical Data, such as data collections of nonadministrative data and special purpose surveys that are designed to fill data gaps or information needs.

These Guidelines, however, do not govern all information of the Department, nor do they cover all information disseminated by the Department. For example, the Guidelines generally do not cover:

  • Internal information such as employee records;
  • Internal procedural, operational, or policy manuals prepared for the management
    and operations of the Department of Education that are not primarily intended
    for public dissemination;
  • Information collected or developed by the Department that is not disseminated to the public, including documents intended only for inter-agency or intra-agency communications;
  • Research findings and other information published by grantees, unless the Department -
    • Represents, uses, or relies upon the information as the official
      position of the Department, or in support of the official position of the Department;
    • Has authority to review and approve the information before release; or
    • Directs that the information be disseminated;
  • Opinions that are clearly identified as such, and that do not represent facts or the agency's views;
  • Electronic links to information on other Websites;
  • Correspondence with individuals;
  • Responses to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the Privacy Act;
  • Press releases, unless they contain new substantive information that was not covered by previously released;
  • Congressional testimony that includes data that has previously been disseminated;
  • Comments received from the public in response to Federal Register notices;
  • Distributions intended to be limited to subpoenas or adjudicative processes, i.e., the findings and determinations made in the course of adjudications;
  • Information collected during the course of a Departmental investigation that is not intended to be disseminated to the public, e.g., data collected through resolution of an OCR or OIG investigation; and
  • Archival records, including previously released information products that are not being relied upon, used for decision-making, or held out as authoritative data.
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Last Modified: 10/17/2005