HHS Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated to the Public. I. National Institutes of Health

10/01/2002

These guidelines were developed to implement the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Guidelines and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies, hereafter referred to as the OMB Information Quality Guidelines and the HHS Part I: Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated to the Public. This report provides the information quality guidelines for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and explains how these guidelines will ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information, disseminated by NIH to the public. This report also details our administrative mechanisms for allowing affected persons to seek and obtain appropriate correction of information maintained and disseminated by the NIH.

The OMB Information Quality Guidelines can be found in the Federal Register, September 28, 2001 The guidelines apply primarily to the dissemination of substantive information (e.g., scientific reports, articles, studies, summaries, speeches, official expert opinions, brochures, statistical information, or compendiums) rather than information pertaining to basic agency operations. Such information can be in any media -- printed, electronic, audiovisual, and the like -- and must be authored or issued by the agency or its contractors, and represent our view.

NIH will ensure that disseminated information meets the standards set forth in the OMB, HHS, and NIH guidelines. It is NIH's policy to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information it disseminates to the public. We strive to provide information that is accurate, reliable, clear, complete, unbiased, and useful. The quality assurance process begins at the inception of the information development process. NIH is committed to integrating the principle of information quality into every phase of information development, including creation, collection, maintenance, and dissemination. Each federal agency is already required to demonstrate the "practical utility" of a proposed collection of information in its Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) submission, i.e., for draft information collections designed to gather information that the agency plans to disseminate. NIH will demonstrate in its PRA clearance packages that each such draft information collection will result in information that will be collected, maintained, and used in a way consistent with OMB, HHS, and NIH information quality guidelines. NIH intends to make use of the PRA clearance process to help improve the quality of information that we collect and disseminate, and to ensure that it complies with all applicable guidelines. The standards to which NIH shall adhere include the following:

  • Information should be objective in substance and presentation. Objectivity means ensuring that information is accurate, reliable, and unbiased and that information is presented in an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner. If analytic results have been subject to formal, independent, external peer review, the information may generally be presumed to be of acceptable objectivity. However, this presumption is refutable based on a persuasive showing by the petitioner in a particular instance. As described in more detail in Section V, NIH works to maintain objectivity through existing review and clearance procedures, and the peer review of disseminated information.
  • Information should be responsive to its intended users, including the public. NIH strives to stay informed of user needs, through user feedback, consultation with advisory committees and peer review groups, and conference participation. Appropriate public access to government information and data play a useful role in improving the overall quality of information disseminated by federal agencies.
  • The integrity of information should be protected. As described in more detail in Section V.3, NIH ensures the integrity of its data and information products through the enforcement of rigorous controls that protect against unauthorized access, revision, or corruption. Some of the controls used at NIH include access control, user authentication, encryption, access monitoring, provision of unalterable electronic content, and audit trails.