HHS Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated to the Public. II. Scope of Applicability of Guidelines for Agency

10/01/2002

The OMB Information Quality Guidelines require NIH to evaluate and identify the types of NIH information that will be subject to the Guidelines. This section identifies the types of information covered by the Guidelines, and also lists the types of information that are exempt. The NIH Office of the General Counsel originally reviewed this information on November 27, 2001 and considered NIH's interpretation to be consistent with the intent of the law.

The pre-dissemination review described in the guidelines only applies to official information (with the NIH imprimatur) that is released on or after October 1, 2002. The administrative mechanism for correction applies to information that the agency disseminates on or after October 1, 2002, regardless of when the agency first disseminated the information. They apply to information in all media — printed, electronic, audiovisual, verbal, and other. The Guidelines focus primarily on the dissemination of substantive information (i.e., reports, studies, summaries) rather than information pertaining to basic agency operations. Information that is disseminated at the request of NIH or with specific NIH approval through a contract or a grant is subject to these Guidelines. Examples are provided below of the kinds of information that the NIH considers to be covered and not covered by the OMB Information Quality Guidelines. Although information that is not covered by the OMB Guidelines are not subject to the new administrative complaint procedures, the information is still subject to the usual NIH internal review procedures for accuracy and quality.

  1. NIH Information Covered by the OMB Guidelines

    Scientific research papers, books, journal articles, and similar authoritative materials, unless they have disclaimers alerting the audience that they do not represent official views of the NIH

    Other official reports, brochures, documents, newsletters, fact sheets, electronic documents, and audiovisual productions (i.e., a unified presentation, developed according to a plan or script, containing visual imagery, sound, or both, and used to convey information)

    Editorials, commentaries, letters-to-the-editor, only if NIH staff representing official NIH viewpoints provides them

    Oral information, including speeches, interviews, expert opinions, only if representing NIH's views, official positions, or policies

    Statistical information -- statistical analyses, aggregated information by program, IC, or for NIH, including funding information and histories (by disease, funding mechanism, dollars, and other criteria) -- prepared for public dissemination

    Consensus panel reports and open meetings' proceedings and minutes

  2. NIH Information Not Covered by the OMB Guidelines

    National Library of Medicine (NLM) databases or other archival records, Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT), and similar databases

    Documents not authored by the agency and not representing the agency's views, including information authored and distributed by NIH grantees1

    Information that is limited in dissemination to Government employees or agency contractors or grantees

    Information pertaining to basic agency operations, e.g., information about agency authorities, activities, programs, along with contact information for the public, organizational charts, NIH or IC Directors' Status Reports, solicitations [program announcements (PAs)/requests for applications (RFAs)], receipt and review materials (e.g., summary statements, information for advisory councils or advisory committee members)

    Information intended solely for intra- or interagency use or sharing of Government information

    Responses to requests for agency records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or other similar laws

    Information relating solely to correspondence with individuals or persons

    Press releases that support the announcement or give public notice of information that NIH has disseminated elsewhere

    Information intended for public filings, subpoenas, or adjudicative processes involving specific parties (There are well-established procedural safeguards and rights to address the quality of adjudicatory decisions and to provide persons with an opportunity to contest decisions. These guidelines do not impose any additional requirements on agencies during adjudicative proceedings and do not provide parties to such adjudicative proceedings any additional rights of challenge or appeal.)

    Opinions where the agency's presentation makes it clear that what is being offered is personal opinion rather than fact or the agency's views