Another Lawsuit Filed Under the Data Quality Act
by Guest Blogger, 12/15/2003
The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a lawsuit Dec. 9 against the Army Corp of Engineers alleging the Corp released a status report that violates the Data Quality Act. The Corp failed to respond to a request for correction under the Department of Defense’s data quality guidelines filed by PEER on Aug. 20. According to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of D.C., the monthly status report on the Upper Mississippi River – Illinois Waterway System Navigation Study contains data from economic models that do not abide by the data quality standards of objectivity, utility and integrity of information. The Corp’s currently disseminates the report on its website. PEER believes the report uses flawed economic models, which were developed as proprietary models by the Corp and were never peer reviewed. Under the OMB and Department of Defense’s (DoD) guidelines, information can be presumed to be of acceptable objectivity if it has been subject to formal, independent, external peer review. DoD previously recognized the data quality problems in the economic models and contracted with the National Research Council to evaluate the models for use in the navigation study. This review never took place. PEER contends that reliance on this information inhibits the development of any scientific study to address the navigation system. Under the data quality guidelines, government agencies have 60 days to respond to a request. The deadline passed on Nov. 19 and PEER subsequently filed the suit. The lawsuit asks that the court withdraw and renounce the report until the economic models are properly peer reviewed. This suit could be one of the first tests of whether the data quality guidelines are judicially reviewable. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) settled a previous data quality lawsuit out of court, leaving the question unanswered. The College Sports Council also filed a suit in August challenging the Three-Part Test under Title IX; this case is still pending. For more information on PEER’s administrative request for correction see /node/1676. Also see http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/1733 for information regarding the CEI lawsuit.