HHS Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated to the Public. V. Agency Quality Assurance Policies, Standards and Processes for Ensuring the Quality of Information Dissemination to the Public


NCHS is recognized as one of the major statistical agencies in the federal government. In developing its statistical and analytic information products, NCHS recognizes that the quality assurance process begins at the inception of the information development process routinely employs a number of widely accepted methods and procedures for ensuring quality, including independent assessments of statistical methodologies and observance of professional standards. In order to ensure the utility of its statistical and analytic information products, NCHS conducts independent research and consults with experts in areas such as data collection, data analysis and a variety of substantive topics and issues. Additionally, NCHS maintains ongoing contact with users, and participates in conferences, workshops, etc., in order to objectively assess and identify the current and future data needs of NCHS constituents. NCHS reviews the quality (including the objectivity, utility, and integrity) of information before it's disseminated and treats information quality as integral to every step of the development of information, including its creation, collection, maintenance and dissemination. Further, NCHS employs a wide variety of dissemination mechanisms to make its statistical and analytic information products widely available and broadly accessible.

In order to assure the objectivity of its statistical and analytic information products, i.e., that they are accurate, reliable, and unbiased, NCHS obtains these data through accepted statistical theory and practice. Dissemination of data also follows generally recognized guidelines in terms of defining acceptable standards regarding minimum response rates, maximum standard errors, cell size suppression, quality of coding and other processing operations. NCHS also maintains staff expertise in areas such as concept development, survey planning and design (including questionnaire development and testing), data collection, data processing and editing, data analysis, evaluation procedures, and methods of dissemination. Further, NCHS strives to demonstrate in its Paper Reduction Act (PRA) clearance packages that each draft information collection will result in information that will be collected, maintained, and used in a way that is consistent with OMB, HHS and NCHS information quality guidelines.

NCHS assures the security of its statistical and analytic information products through the enforcement of rigorous controls that protect against unauthorized access to the data, revision or corruption of the data, or unauthorized use of the data. Some of the major controls used at NCHS include access control, user authentication, encryption, access monitoring, provision of unalterable electronic content, and audit trails.

All NCHS statistical and analytic information products, undergo a formal clearance process before dissemination. Publications and reports, whether in electronic or paper form, are reviewed by a designated official within the author's office or division and by the Associate Director for Science (ADS). These reviews cover the clarity of descriptive text, the appropriateness of the methodology, the soundness of the analysis, the adherence to confidentiality and disclosure avoidance restrictions, the readability of tabular and graphic presentations of data, etc. Finally, all products undergo editorial review (e.g., formatting, proofreading, spell checks, proper punctuation, etc.,) In addition, all public use tapes are reviewed for accuracy and appropriate confidentiality protections. Oral presentations are subject to appropriate supervisory review.

NCHS statistical and analytic information products are derived using generally acceptable statistical practices and methodologies which are well documented and available to the public. These procedures enable responsible statisticians and analysts outside of NCHS to replicate the NCHS statistical methods and obtain results consistent with those obtained by NCHS.