OMB Watch Analysis Finds Bias, Flaws in OMB Year-1 Data Quality Report

(Washington, DC 7/12/04) - OMB Watch released an analysis July 12 that found a report on data quality from the Office of Management and Budget filled with inaccuracies and misleading statements. The OMB recently published the report to inform Congress about the first year of implementing the Information Quality Act, also known as the Data Quality Act. The report provides OMB's perspectives on the first year under the law, as well as the IQA reports submitted to OMB from individual agencies. Unfortunately, upon careful review of the report, OMB's insights seem biased and mischaracterize the use and impact of the IQA guidelines at agencies. OMB Watch analysis OMB report The Reality of Data Quality Act's First Year: A Correction of OMB's Report to Congress," authored by OMB Watch policy analysts, Sean Moulton and Cheryl Gregory, found: * OMB claims that agencies only had 35 information quality challenges in Fiscal Year 2003. Yet, even using questionable methodology employed by OMB, the number is 98 - nearly triple the number in the report. * OMB states that "most" IQA challenges that were denied were appealed and that the appeals process "appears to have fostered corrections." Yet only 28 percent of denied challenges were appealed -- clearly not "most." And of these appeals, only 5 resulted in partial or full corrections -- and 4 of those were for what is called non-influential information. * OMB accurately states that a wide range of stakeholders have filed information quality challenges, dismissing fears that these challenges would be dominated by industry. But OMB fails to disclose that 72 percent of the challenges -- nearly three-quarters -- were from industry. * OMB claims that the IQA has not slowed down agency rulemakings or dissemination activities. Yet OMB has no data to draw such conclusions. OMB did not collect information from the agencies about impact on rulemakings or dissemination. Instead, OMB relies on conjecture or highly flawed logic to make its point. "The template OMB created for the first-year reports from agencies does not collect the type of information that would allow for a thorough assessment of the new law," said Moulton, Senior Information Policy Analyst with OMB Watch. For example, OMB does not ask agencies to send information on the amount of resources each devotes to IQA activities or the impact the IQA has on other agency activities such as rulemakings and dissemination of information, he said. Such information is essential to Congress in evaluating the implementation of the law. "The OMB report to Congress has so many problems, it probably would not meet the standards established under OMB's own information quality guidelines," Moulton said. "There are problems with reproducibility, transparency of the methodology, accuracy of the data, and general reliability -- all key factors under the information quality guidelines." Regardless of the merits of OMB's report to Congress, it is clear that this law has had a significant impact on government operations. Yet Congress has never had a hearing on it -- not even during development. "In light of the OMB report, congressional oversight is now needed, including a General Accounting Office assessment of the law's implementation, and hearings on whether the law needs to be modified," said co-author Gregory, Information Policy Analyst at OMB Watch. Download the full OMB Watch critical analysis at See the OMB report at ###
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