U.S. Department of Commerce
Section 515 Standards:
Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Section 515 of Public Law 106-554, the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001, directs the 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." Section 515 further requires that agencies subject to the OMB guidelines must establish "administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information that does not comply with [the OMB guidelines]."(1)
The OMB guidelines direct that, by May 1, 2002, agencies publish for public comment individual draft guidelines. In response to this directive, on May 3, 2002, the Department of Commerce published in the Federal Register, a request for public comment on agency guidelines, information quality standards, and an administrative correction mechanism.(2) The DOC-draft guidelines provided policy direction to the various operating units of the Department concerning issuance of quality standards applicable to disseminated information. Further, the DOC-draft guidelines set forth draft Department-wide quality standards to address information utility and integrity, as well as a quality standard for information that is other than scientific, financial, or statistical.
In its request for comment, the Department advised that, by October 1, 2002, each operating unit would document and make available to the public standards meeting the requirements of quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity for all non-exempt disseminated information. To this end, by May 31, 2002, each operating unit would post on its Web site for public comment the categories of information disseminated, the quality standard for each category, and an administrative correction mechanism.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA") Section 515 information quality standards are available for review at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/occ/infoquality/infostandards_05312002.htm.
Requests for Comments on these Information Quality Standards
Comments on these proposed standards are due by close of business June 22, 2002. Comments should be sent by first-class mail to Chief Information Officer, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 4888, Washington, D.C. 20230 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NTIA Section 515 Information Quality Standards and Guidelines
Part 1 Information Quality Standards Applicable to all NTIA Disseminated Information
Section 1.1 Standard of UtilityInformation disseminated by NTIA to the public shall be useful to its intended users. "Useful" means that the content of the information is helpful, beneficial, or serviceable to its intended users, or that the information supports the usefulness of other disseminated information by making it more accessible or easier to read, see, understand, obtain or use. Where the usefulness of information will be enhanced by greater transparency, care shall be taken that sufficient background and detail is available, either with the disseminated information or through other means, to maximize the usefulness of the information. The level of such background and detail shall be commensurate with the importance of the particular information, balanced against the resources required, and be appropriate to the nature and timeliness of the information to be disseminated.(3)
Section 1.2 Standard of IntegrityInformation disseminated by NTIA to the public, independent of the specific distribution mechanism, shall be safeguarded from improper access, modification, or destruction. NTIA will ensure that disseminated information, including original and supporting information, is protected commensurate with the risk and magnitude of harm that could result from the loss, misuse, or unauthorized access to or modification of such information.
All electronic information disseminated to the public by NTIA shall adhere to the standards set out in Appendix III, "Security of Federal Automated Information Resources," OMB Circular A-130; the Computer Security Act; and the Government Information Systems Reform Act. Confidentiality of data collected by the Department of Commerce Office of the Secretary is safeguarded under legislation including the Privacy Act, and Titles 13, 15, and 22 of the U.S. Code.(4)
Section 1.3 Standard of ObjectivityInformation disseminated by NTIA shall be presented in a clear, complete, and unbiased manner, and in a context which enhances usability to the intended audience. The sources of the disseminated information shall be identified to the extent possible, consistent with confidentiality, privacy, and security considerations and protections, and taking into account timely presentation, the medium of dissemination, and the importance of the information, balanced against the resources required and the time available.
In addition, such information shall be reliable and accurate to an acceptable degree of error as determined by factors such as the importance of the information, its intended use, time sensitivity, expected degree of permanence, relation to the primary mission(s) of the disseminating office, and the context of the dissemination, balanced against the resources required and the time available. A body of information is considered to be reliable if experience shows it to be generally accurate. Accurate information, in the case of non-scientific, non-financial, non-statistical information, means information which is reasonably determined to be factually correct in the view of the disseminating office as of the time of dissemination.(5)
Part 2 Types of Information and Corresponding Pre-Dissemination Process
Section 2.1 Non-Statistical, Non-Financial, Non-Scientific InformationFor the purposes of this standard, non-statistical, non-financial, non-scientific information ("NSNFNS") refers to the following material: databases populated and maintained by NTIA for external, non-Commerce use; any analytic data reports wherein the data being analyzed were collected by NTIA; agency performance plans and annual reports; employment information, including directories; listings of employment opportunities; conference proceedings; course and instructional materials; grant application instructions and forms; press releases and grant award announcements; policy analyses and fact sheets; newsletters; filings; contracts, award documents, memoranda of understanding, and cooperative agreements; Federal Register notices; and selected speeches and testimony by NTIA officials.Section 2.1.1 Definition
The pre-dissemination process for NSNFNS material is set forth as follows. The author of the draft manuscript forwards it to the Associate Administrator of his/her program unit. After reviewing the draft for technical integrity, substantive value, accuracy, clarity, as well as policy and regulatory impact, the Associate Administrator returns the document to the author, noting any corrections and edits believed appropriate. The author revises the draft for submission into the formal NTIA internal clearance process, attaching a "clearance form" to the manuscript. The revised manuscript and clearance form (the "package") are re-submitted to the Associate Administrator. S/he approves the package by signing the clearance form and forwarding both documents to the Office of Chief Counsel.(6) The Chief Counsel reviews the package for legal sufficiency; edits the revised manuscript, if appropriate; signs the clearance form; and forwards the package to the Deputy Assistant Secretary. The Deputy Assistant Secretary reviews the revised manuscript, with edits, if any, not only for technical integrity and legitimacy, but also for conformance with NTIA and Departmental policy. S/he has the package returned to the author for revision, if necessary. At the conclusion of the NTIA internal clearance process, NTIA considers submitting the package to the Executive Secretariat for Departmental-wide review and clearance. This decision is based on the subject matter of the document. NTIA-contact information is provided at the time of dissemination.Section 2.1.2 Pre-dissemination Review Process
Section 2.2 Scientific InformationFor the purposes of this standard, scientific information refers, generally, to discussions and/or examinations of technical principles, methods, or data, at times requiring explicit technical measurements and/or analytic assessments. Such information would include discussions of state-of-the-art scientific research; authoritative treatment of designated scientific and/or technical areas of inquiry; and resource/use assessments. Scientific information would, in most cases, be disseminated in written form, usually as a report, monograph, technical note or memorandum, or other similar publication.Section 2.2.1 Definition
Section 2.2.2 Pre-dissemination Review ProcessPre-dissemination review processes substantiate the quality of the scientific information disseminated through documentation or other means. NTIA's review, incorporating examinations of technical integrity, scientific accuracy and authenticity, as well as policy and regulatory impact, is integrated (at each level) into the existing pre-dissemination review processes.
For scientific information that does not require technical measurement or analytic assessments, pre-dissemination review is accomplished through the following procedure. The author, who has basic responsibility for the substantive value, accuracy, and clarity of the draft manuscript ("scientific responsibility"), forwards it to his/her division chief. This official, who prior to publication will in effect certify that the author has met his/her scientific responsibility, reviews the draft manuscript and disseminates it within the division for peer review. This latter examination provides a critical mechanism for ensuring the author's compliance with his/her scientific responsibility.
After completion of the peer review process, the draft is returned to the division chief and author for substantive, technical, and editorial revisions, if necessary, before it is distributed to an ad hoc editorial review board (the "Board"). The Board, comprised of other division chiefs and senior members of the NTIA operating unit, examines the draft for scientific accuracy, technical legitimacy, and quality. The author incorporates the Board's comments, if any, and forwards the "revised manuscript," through the division chief, to the Associate Administrator of the program unit. Depending on the subject matter, the Associate Administrator might submit the revised manuscript to the Inter-Departmental Radio Advisory Committee for additional technical review and examination of regulatory and policy impact. The document is returned to the author for revisions, if necessary, before submission into the NTIA internal clearance procedure, set forth in section 2.1.2. above.
For manuscripts requiring technical measurement or analytic assessments, the Associate Administrator may forward the manuscript to the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences ("ITS"), for review by a technical experts panel. This panel is comprised of senior ITS employees selected by the Associate Administrator. Once the panel has reviewed the revised manuscript and has provided comments, it is returned to the Associate Administrator for further revision and submission into the NTIA internal clearance procedure.
For scientific documents originating from and to be disseminated directly from the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences, the pre-dissemination review process is set forth as follows. The author of the draft manuscript forwards it and a list of technical reviewers to his/her division chief. The division chief reviews the manuscript to ensure compliance with the author's scientific responsibility; identifies potential policy issues; assigns a project number; and selects two technical reviewers. The division chief also forwards a copy of the manuscript to the publications officer, who serves as the editorial reviewer. A review form ("NTIA-2") is prepared and the manuscript is forwarded to each technical reviewer and, if necessary, to an executive officer with request for a policy review. The executive officer coordinates any policy review with appropriate office heads at NTIA headquarters.
The technical reviewers, usually two peers, perform a rigorous review of the manuscript for technical significance and accuracy, and complete the NTIA-2 form. The editorial reviewer reviews the draft to ensure technical clarity before completing the review form. All reviewers return copies of the draft manuscript and completed NTIA-2 forms to the division chief. S/he is notified of any policy or technical issues identified by reviewers and returns the annotated copies of the manuscript and the review forms to the author. The author revises the draft manuscript, using the reviewers' comments, as appropriate.
A manuscript approval form ("NTIA-3") is attached to the "revised manuscript" and the package is submitted to the Editorial Review Board ("ITS-ERB"). This review body ensures technical integrity, substantive value, and scientific accuracy, as well as examines the regulatory and policy impact of the contents of the revised manuscript. (On rare occasions, the division chief approves the revised manuscript for immediate release.) The ITS-ERB reviews the package and assigns a sponsor, who examines a copy of the manuscript to determine that the author has responded appropriately to reviewers' comments and that there are no remaining policy issues. The sponsor may consult with the author and reviewers, and upon determination all concerns about the draft have been resolved, executes the NTIA-3 and returns the package to the ITS-ERB chair with recommendations concerning publication. The Chair of the ITS-ERB acts on the sponsor's recommendation, signs the NTIA-3 (thereby indicating the ITS-ERB's recommendation), and returns the manuscript package to the division office for revisions, as appropriate. Once finalized, the manuscript is delivered for dissemination. ITS-contact information is provided at the time of dissemination.
Section 2.3 Disclaimed InformationAny information released by NTIA that does not represent the official views, opinions, or policies of NTIA or any other part of the U.S. Department of Commerce shall contain a disclaimer statement. NTIA publication of such information does not constitute an endorsement by NTIA or the U.S. Department of Commerce of any opinion expressed therein.
Part 3 NTIA Mechanism for Requesting Correction of Disseminated Information
(a) Definitions.(1) affected person refers to a person who meets each of the following three criteria:(b) Procedures for initial request for correction.(i) The person must have suffered an injury -- harm to an identifiable legally-protected interest;(2) person refers to an individual, partnership, corporation, association, public or private organization, or State or local government; and
Dated: 31 may 2002
2. See, United States Department of Commerce, Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Disseminated Information, Request for Comment, 67 Fed. Reg. 22398 (May 3, 2002).