HHS Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated to the Public. C. HHS Responsibilities


In accordance with the OMB Guidelines, agencies subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (44USC 3502(1)) are required to:

  • Issue their own information quality guidelines ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency not later than one year after the issuance of the OMB Guidelines;
  • Establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines. Agencies also are to specify appropriate time periods for agency decisions on whether and how to correct the information, and are to notify the affected persons of the action taken. If the person who requested the correction does not agree with the agency's decision (including the corrective action, if any), that person may file for reconsideration within the agency. The agency is to establish an administrative appeal process to review the initial decision, and specify appropriate time limits in which to resolve such requests for reconsideration.
  • Report periodically to the OMB Director on the number and nature of complaints received by the agency regarding the accuracy of information disseminated by the agency and how such complaints were resolved by the agency.

The HHS guidelines described in this plan incorporate the underlying principles that OMB used in designing their government-wide guidelines. First, the HHS guidelines apply to a wide range of government information dissemination activities across HHS and are generic enough to fit all types of media, including print, electronic, and other forms within HHS. Second, the HHS guidelines are intended to assure that all the information that is disseminated meets a basic level of quality and that more important information meets a more rigorous quality standard. Third, the HHS guidelines explicitly recognize the very different types of information that various HHS agencies disseminate depending on their missions, including the need for flexibility in implementation and avoidance of a "one size fits all" approach. Fourth, the statement of HHS information quality policies and procedures are issued in the form of guidelines and not a regulation.

HHS itself encompasses a broad and diverse range of health and human services programs which, while unified in their pursuit of broad goals, are themselves very diverse, encompassing the nation's largest health insurance plan, the nation's preeminent biomedical research agency, as well as most of the nation's federal capacity for public health protection and preparedness and income assistance to needy families. Accordingly, the HHS approach to implementation of the OMB Guidelines is designed to allow HHS agencies and offices to use existing agency quality assurance mechanisms, and apply the guidelines in a flexible manner that recognizes the mission of the agency, the wide range of data that is disseminated and the frequent reliance on third party sources.