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DOD Information Quality Guidelines

This site presents the Department of Defense's Information Quality Guidelines, which were developed in accordance with Section 515, Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act (Public Law 106-554). The law directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue governmentwide 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." OMB published final guidance in Federal Register on Feb. 22, 2002.

According to the OMB guidelines, a basic standard of quality (objectivity, utility, and integrity) must be maintained and appropriate steps taken to incorporate information quality criteria into agency public information dissemination practices. After reviewing initial draft agency guidelines, OMB also issued supplementary guidance that considered important issues and approaches and provided guidance on those provisions that applied uniformly to all agencies.

The OMB guidelines were implemented DOD-wide by Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum, Feb. 10, 2003, and apply to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Military Departments, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Combatant Commands, Inspector General of the Department, Defense Agencies, DOD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities in DOD (hereafter referred to collectively as “DOD Components”).

Section I prescribes policy, guidelines and procedural guidance for DOD Components. It assigns responsibilities, establishes administrative mechanisms for affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by DOD Components, and delineates public complaint reporting requirements. Section II defines terms and provides context and attributes of each term. Section III posts the Information Quality Act Annual Reports to OMB for 2003, 2004 and 2005.

DOD Components have implemented the guidance in Section I, as integral to their information resource management procedures. These guidelines apply to information disseminated by DOD on or after the date of the cited memorandum, regardless of when the information was first disseminated.

Section I - Policy and Procedural Guidance

1 - Purpose

  • 1.1 - Prescribes policy and procedures and assigns responsibilities for ensuring and maximizing the quality (objectivity, utility, and integrity) of information (hereafter referred to as "quality standards") disseminated to the public by the Department of Defense.
  • 1.2 - Issues guidelines that include administrative mechanisms for affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated to the public by Department of Defense Components that does not comply with the quality standards in these guidelines as based on the OMB guidelines (Federal Register, February 22, 2002, Volume 67, Number 36, page 8452).
  • 1.3 - Does not provide independent authority to release information to the public.

2 - Definitions

  • Terms used in this attachment are defined in Section II.

3 - Procedures

  • 3.1 - Underlying Principles
    • 3.1.1 - Technology such as the Internet enables DOD to communicate information quickly and easily to a wide audience. However, Internet communication also increases the potential harm that can result from the dissemination of information that does not meet basic information quality standards. At the same time, the variety of DOD information does not lend itself to detailed, prescriptive, "one-size-fits-all" DOD-wide guidelines that require different types of dissemination activities to be treated in the same manner. These guidelines have been developed with the following principles in mind.
      • - The guidelines apply, in the spirit and intent of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, to a wide variety of DOD information dissemination activities including practices that have an impact on the acquisition, storage and maintenance of the information to be disseminated. The guidelines are generic in order to apply to a variety of media, printed, electronic, or other forms of publication.
      • - Components should not disseminate substantive information that does not meet a basic level of quality. An additional level of quality is warranted in those situations involving influential scientific, financial, or statistical information. This additional level of quality for influential scientific, financial, or statistical analytical results requires that such information be "capable of being substantially reproduced." This is discussed further in paragraph 3.2.3. below.
      • - The guidelines are designed so that Components can apply them in a common sense and workable manner. It is important these guidelines do not impose unnecessary administrative burdens that would inhibit Components from continuing to take advantage of the Internet and other technologies to disseminate information to the public. In this regard, Components may incorporate the performance standards and procedures required by these guidelines into their existing information resources management (IRM) and administrative practices rather than create new and potentially duplicative or contradictory processes. Under these guidelines, Components must ensure their guidelines are consistent with these guidelines and their administrative mechanisms satisfy the standards and procedural requirements in these guidelines. Components may rely on their implementation of the computer security provisions of the PRA of 1995 to establish appropriate security safeguards for ensuring the integrity of the information that they disseminate. Guidance contained in DEPSECDEF Memorandum, subject: Web Site Administration, dated December 7, 1998, as amended, and DODD 5230.9, subject: Clearance of DOD Information for Public Release, dated April 9, 1996, address DOD web site administration policies and procedures and clearance of DOD information for public release respectively.
  • 3.2 - Guidelines
    • 3.2.1 - Components are directed to publish IRM procedures for reviewing and substantiating (by documentation or other means selected by Components) the quality standards of information before it is disseminated. In addition, Components are to establish administrative procedures allowing affected persons to seek and obtain, if appropriate, correction of disseminated information that does not comply with the quality standards.
    • 3.2.2 - Three substantive terms describe the quality of information disseminated by DOD and Components: utility, objectivity, and integrity. Definitions in Attachment 2 provide some context and attributes for these terms to enable Components to judge whether a particular type or piece of information meets these attributes. "Utility" refers to the usefulness of the information to intended users, including the public. When reviewing information for dissemination, Components must consider the usefulness of the information for its reasonable and expected application. "Objectivity" focuses on whether the disseminated information is being presented in an accurate, clear, complete and unbiased manner and as a matter of substance, is accurate, reliable and unbiased. "Integrity" refers to security -- the protection of information from unauthorized access or revision to ensure that the information is not compromised through corruption or falsification.
    • 3.2.3 - In cases of dissemination of general scientific and research information, technical information that has been subjected to formal, independent, external peer review is presumptively objective. However, this presumption is rebuttable based on a persuasive showing by a complainant in a particular instance.
      • - In dissemination of scientific, financial, or statistical information that is deemed by DOD to be influential, a higher quality standard that that of peer review is warranted. To ensure the objectivity of influential scientific, financial, or statistical information, it must be capable of being substantially reproduced in accordance with commonly accepted scientific, financial, or statistical standards. The reproducibility standard applicable to influential scientific, financial or statistical information is intended to ensure disseminated information is sufficiently transparent in terms of data and methods of analysis, that it would be feasible for a replication to be conducted.
      • - Components responsible for dissemination of vital health and medical information shall interpret the reproducibility and peer review standards in a manner appropriate to assuring the timely flow of vital information to medical providers, patients, health agencies and the public.
      • - With regard to analysis of risks to health, safety or the environment that DOD Components disseminate, DOD Components will adopt or adapt as appropriate to the analysis in question, the quality principles of the Safe Water Drinking Act of 1996 (42 U.S.C. 300g-1(b)(3)(A)&(B)).
    • 3.2.4 - Archival information disseminated by DOD and Component libraries (e.g., Internet distribution of published articles) is not covered by these guidelines; libraries do not endorse the information they disseminate. Components have not authored these documents nor adopted them as representing DOD's or Components' views. By disseminating these materials, Components are simply ensuring that the public can have quicker and easier access to materials that are otherwise publicly available. These guidelines apply to information that a Component disseminates from a web page but do not include the provision of hyperlinks to information that others disseminate. These guidelines also do not apply to opinions where the Component's presentation makes it clear what is being offered is someone's opinion rather than fact or the Component's views, unless the Component represents the information as or uses disclaimers to distinguish the status of information as they consider their information holdings.
    • 3.2.5 - Component dissemination of information prepared by an outside party in a manner that reasonably suggests the Component agrees with the information renders Component dissemination of the information subject to these guidelines. However, a Component does not initiate the dissemination of information when a Component-employed scientist or Component grantee or contractor publishes and communicates his research findings in the same manner as his academic colleagues, even if the Component retains ownership or other intellectual property rights because the Component paid for the research. To avoid confusion regarding whether the Component agrees with the information, the researcher should include an appropriate disclaimer in the publication or speech to the effect that the views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Component.
    • 3.2.6 - In contrast to paragraph 3.2.5. above, if the Component has directed a third party to disseminate information or retains the authority to approve the information before release, then the Component has sponsored the dissemination of the information.
    • 3.2.7 - Specific types of information that are not subjected to these guidelines are included in Attachment 2. paragraph 4.

Section II - Definitions

  • 1 - Affected Persons - Persons who may benefit, be harmed, or otherwise affected by the disseminated information. This includes persons who are seeking to address information about themselves as well as persons who use information. "Persons" includes groups, organizations and corporations as defined by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995.
  • 2 - Dissemination - Component initiated or sponsored distribution of information to the public. Dissemination does not include distribution limited to: government employees or component contractors or grantees; intra- or inter-Component use or sharing of government information; and responses to requests for Component records under the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act or other similar law. This definition also does not include distribution limited to: correspondence with individuals or persons, press releases, archival records, public filings, subpoenas or adjudicative processes.
  • 3 - Influential - When used in the context of scientific, financial, or statistical information, means that the Component can reasonably determine that dissemination of the information will have or does have clear and substantial impact on important public policies or important private sector decisions. Each Component is authorized to define "influential" in ways appropriate given the nature and multiplicity of issues for which the Component is responsible.
  • 4 - Information - Any communication or representation of knowledge such as facts or data, in any medium or form, including textual, numerical, graphic, cartographic, narrative, or audiovisual forms. This definition includes information that a Component disseminates from a web page, but does not include the provision of hyperlinks to information that others disseminate. This definition does not include opinions, where the Component's presentation makes it clear that what is being offered is someone's opinion rather than fact or the Component's views.
    • 4.1 - Specific types of information that are not subject to these guidelines
      • 4.1.1 - Distribution of information that is limited to government employees, Component contractors or grantees.
      • 4.1.2 - Intra or inter-Component or other Department or Agency use of sharing of government information including responses to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or other similar laws.
      • 4.1.3 - Distribution of correspondence with individuals or persons.
      • 4.1.4 - Information limited to subpoenas and adjudicative processes.