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Information Quality Guidelines

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Utility refers to the usefulness of the information to its intended users. Utility is achieved by staying informed of information needs and developing new products and services where appropriate. To maximize the utility of influential information, care must be taken in the review stage to ensure that the information can be clearly understood and, where appropriate and to the extent practical, an external user of the information can reproduce the steps involved in producing the information.

Ultimately, the Department intends to ensure that the information it disseminates meets the needs of intended users. All information products should be grammatically correct and clearly written in plain English. The target audience should be clearly identified, and the product should be understandable to that audience.

To ensure the usefulness of Department products, all information products should provide information that will help the Department fulfill its mission "to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation." When appropriate, Department products should include contact information for users who seek clarification or further information, or who want to provide feedback.

In particular-

  • General Information should provide clear and readable descriptions of the Department's programs and services and, where applicable, guidance and assistance, including who is eligible and how and where to apply for services or assistance. It also may include information pertaining to evaluations of specific programs and services, and descriptions of findings.
  • Research Studies and Program Evaluations should be designed and reviewed to fill the information needs that are identified through internal review, legislative mandates, or input from data users outside the Department.
  • Administrative and Program Data, e.g., aggregate data (or information) derived from records at the school, school district, and state levels, should be carefully described and documented in all reports and products released by the Department.
  • Statistical Data, e.g., data collections of non-administrative data and special purpose surveys should be designed to fill data gaps or information needs that are identified through internal review, legislative mandates, or input from data users outside the Department, and should be reviewed for how well they fulfill that purpose.

The usefulness of information the Department disseminates will be evaluated from the perspective of the Department, educators, education researchers, policymakers, and the public. The Department relies upon internal reviews and analyses, along with feedback from advisory committees, educators, education researchers, policymakers, and the public to achieve this. Consistent with OMB's guidance, the Department's goal is to maximize the usefulness of the information and minimize the cost to the government and the public. When disseminating its information products, the Department will utilize varied dissemination channels so that the public, education researchers, and policymakers can locate Department information in an equitable and timely fashion.

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Last Modified: 10/17/2005