Information Quality FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
- What are the CDC information quality guidelines?
- Why did CDC develop these guidelines?
- When did the information quality guidelines go into effect?
- How is information quality maintained?
- What information is subject to the quality guidelines?
- Are there quality control procedures for information NOT subject to the quality guidelines?
- Who is responsible for the information quality guidelines at CDC?
- What are the procedures for seeking corrections to information provided by CDC?
- How will CDC respond to requests for correction?
- How long will CDC take to respond?
- What is the process for appeal?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed information quality guidelinesexternal icon in order to maintain the high quality of the information it provides to the public. These guidelines include administrative mechanisms for affected parties to seek corrections to noncompliant information provided by the agency.
The CDC guidelines were developed in response to the Government-wide guidelines issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which are directed at ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated by Federal agencies. Each Federal agency is responsible for developing its own guidelines.
The OMB information quality guidelines require that “influential” scientific, financial, or statistical information in Government documents be based on studies that can be substantially reproduced if the original or supporting data were to be independently reanalyzed using the same methods. “Influential” means that the information has a clear and substantial impact on important public policies or important private sector decisions, or has important consequences for specific health practices, technologies, substances, products, or firms.
Final OMB guidelines were published in the Federal Register on September 28, 2001external icon, and supplemental information was published in corrected form on February 22, 2002pdf iconexternal icon, but effective as of January 3, 2002.
The OMB guidelines apply to official information (with the CDC imprimatur) that is released on or after October 1, 2002, regardless of when first released.
CDC is committed to applying rigorous scientific standards to ensure the accuracy and reliability of research results. For scientific and technical documents, the scientific community recognizes peer review as the primary means of quality control. CDC routinely seeks the input of highly qualified peer reviewers on the propriety, accuracy, completeness, and quality (including objectivity, utility, and integrity) of its materials.
Since the influence and implications of disseminated information cannot always be fully anticipated, all CDC scientific reports are expected to state clearly and specifically how the results are generated-data used, various assumptions, analytic methods, statistical procedures, sources of error-so that the original analysis is sufficiently transparent.
The guidelines apply to information in all forms-print, electronic, audiovisual, verbal, etc. The guidelines focus primarily on the dissemination of substantive information (e.g., reports, studies, summaries) rather than information pertaining to basic agency operations. Information that is disseminated at the request of CDC or with specific CDC approval through a contract or a grant is subject to these guidelines. The guidelines apply to preliminary information and are not limited to information used in agency rulemaking.
Information that is subject to the guidelines includes:
- 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 CDC
- Official reports, brochures, documents, newsletters, electronic documents, and audiovisual productions
- Editorials, commentaries, and letters to the editor, but only if they are provided by CDC staff representing official CDC viewpoints
- Verbal information, including speeches, interviews, and expert opinions, but only if it represents CDC viewpoints, official positions, or policies
- Statistical information, including statistical analyses and aggregated information by program, institute, or center or for CDC, including funding information and histories (by disease, funding mechanism, dollars, and other criteria)
- Consensus panel reports and open meetings’ proceedings and minutes
Although information that is not covered by the OMB guidelines is not subject to the new administrative correction procedures, the information is still subject to the usual CDC internal review procedures for accuracy and high quality. This information includes:
- National Library of Medicine (NLM) databases or other archival records, CRISP, and similar databases
- Documents not authored by the agency and not representing the agency’s views, including information authored and distributed by CDC grantees
- Information that is limited in dissemination to Government employees or agency contractors or grantees
- Information pertaining to basic agency operations, including information about agency authorities, activities, and programs; contact information for the public; organizational charts; CDC or institute or center directors’ status reports; solicitations [program announcements (PAs)/requests for applications (RFAs)]; and receipt and review materials (e.g., summary statements, information for advisory councils or advisory committee members)
- Information intended solely for intra- or interagency use
- Responses to requests for agency records under the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or other similar laws
- Information relating solely to correspondence with individuals
- Press releases that support the announcement or give public notice of information that CDC has disseminated elsewhere
- Information for public filings, subpoenas, or adjudicative processes
- Opinions where the agency’s presentation makes it clear that what is being offered is personal opinion rather than fact or the agency’s viewpoints.
The Office of Science Quality in the Office of the Associate Director for Science is responsible for implementing the CDC information quality guidelines and works collaboratively with the institutes and centers to ensure the quality of CDC materials and to resolve requests for corrections.
CDC has developed administrative mechanisms to allow affected persons to seek and obtain correction of disseminated information that does not comply with OMB, HHS and CDC guidelines.
To seek a correction of information disseminated by the agency, individuals must follow the procedures described below:
- complaints or requests for review and correction of information must be in written (hard copy or electronic) form;
- requests shall be sent to CDCMail:
Office of Science Quality
1600 Clifton Road, NE
H21-8 (Attn: Information Quality)
Atlanta, GA 30333E-mail:
- requests shall state that an information quality request for correction is being submitted.
The complaint must contain:
- a detailed description of the specific information that needs to be corrected including where the information is located, i.e. the publication title, date, and publication number, if any, or the Website and Web page address (url), or the speech title, presenter, date and place of delivery;
- the specific reasons for believing the information does not comply with OMB, HHS or CDC guidelines and is in error and supporting documentation, if any;
- the specific recommendations for correcting the information
- a description of how the person submitting the complaint is affected by the information error; and
- the name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, and organizational affiliation, if any, of the individual making the complaint.
Complainants should be aware that they bear the “burden of proof” with respect to the necessity for correction as well as with respect to the type of correction they seek.
Based on a review of the information provided, CDC staff will determine whether a correction is warranted, and if so, what action to take. Any corrective action will be determined by the nature and timeliness of the information involved, the significance of the correction on the use of the information, and the magnitude of the correction. CDC will respond to the requestor by letter or email. The response will explain the findings of the review and the actions CDC will take. CDC may reject claims made in bad faith or without justification.
Requests for correction of information are handled primarily by the director or designee (e.g., scientific director, laboratory or branch chief) of the institute or center where the information originated. A request for correction regarding information originating from the Office of Science Quality at CDC should be handled by the director of the division or office. If more than one institute or center was involved in releasing the information, the institute or center of the lead CDC author should take primary responsibility for coordinating a response.
CDC will respond to all requests for correction within 60 calendar days of receipt. If more than 60 days are needed, CDC will inform the requestor that more time is required and will state the reason why and an estimated decision date.
If CDC denies a request for correction, the requestor may send within 30 days of receipt of the agency’s decision a written request for reconsideration. The request should state the reasons for the appeal and may be sent as hard copy or electronically to InfoQuality@cdc.gov . Requestors should reference the CDC tracking number provided in the CDC response to the original request. If sent by hard copy, requestors should also clearly mark the appeal and the outside envelope with “Information Quality Appeal,” and send the appeal to the following address:
Office of Science Quality
1600 Clifton Road, NE
H21-8 (Attn: Information Quality)
Atlanta, GA 30333
If the information in dispute was originally disseminated by the CDC, then an appeal should be addressed to the CDC Office of Science Quality at the same address above, or sent electronically to InfoQuality@cdc.gov.