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Information Quality Guidelines

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued governmentwide guidelines under section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554) to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information disseminated by Federal agencies. As required by the Act, NSF issued information quality guidelines effective October 1, 2002. Our guidelines supplement NSF’s guidelines and focus on dissemination of OIG substantive information (i.e., reports, studies, and summaries), rather than information relating to basic OIG operations.

Our standards of quality assure utility, objectivity, and integrity. The statistical information we disseminate is based on sound statistical methods and the principle of transparency. For purposes of these guidelines, the following definitions apply:

  • Utility means that the information to be disseminated is useful to its intended users including the public. 
  • Objectivity means that disseminated information is substantively accurate, clear, complete, and presented in an unbiased manner.
  • Integrity means that information is protected from unauthorized access, corruption, or revision to ensure that disseminated information is not compromised through corruption or falsification.
  • Sound statistical methods means that methods are used to produce information that is accurate, reliable, and unbiased.
  • Transparency refers to a clear description of the methods, data sources, assumptions, outcomes, and related information that will allow the data user to understand how the information disseminated was produced.
  • Information means any OIG substantive materials (i.e., reports, studies, and summaries) that contain communications or representations of knowledge such as facts and/or data in any medium or form that is disseminated to the public.
  • Dissemination means OIG initiated or sponsored distribution of information to the public.

Information subject to OIG’s Information Quality Guidelines includes:

  • Statistical information produced and disseminated by the OIG in support of audit reports, studies, and summaries;
  • Investigation reports and case closeout memoranda disseminated in redacted form (consistent with Freedom of Information and Privacy Act restrictions); and
  • Management advisories.

Information NOT subject to OIG’s Information Quality Guidelines includes:

  • Distribution limited to government employees, or agency contractors or grantees;
  • Intra- or inter-agency use or sharing of government information;
  • Responses to requests for OIG records under the FOIA, the Privacy Act, or other similar laws;
  • Distribution limited to correspondence with individuals or persons regardless of the media used;
  • Archival records;
  • Public filings, including material OIG files in public dockets;
  • Information relating to subpoenas, litigation (including briefs and other information submitted to a court), administrative enforcement proceedings, civil rights and personnel complaints and reviews, debarment and suspension matters, press releases, and Merit System Protection Board matters;
  • Information pertaining to basic OIG operations, including outreach publications and the Semiannual Report to Congress;
  • Procedural, operational, or policy manuals, and management information produced for internal use;
  • Views or opinions, where the presenter makes clear that what is being offered is someone’s opinion rather than fact or OIG’s views;
  • Research data, findings, reports and other materials published or otherwise distributed by employees or agency contractors or grantees that are clearly identified as not representing OIG’s views;
  • Hyperlinks to information that others disseminate, as well as paper-based information from other sources referenced but not approved or endorsed, by the OIG; and
  • Information presented to Congress as part of legislative or oversight processes, such as testimony of OIG officials, and information or drafting assistance provided to Congress concerning proposed or pending legislation that is not simultaneously disseminated to the public.

OIG Audits

The OIG Office of Audit (OA) adheres to Government Auditing Standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States, which prescribes generally accepted government auditing standards. OA has standards and review procedures to ensure that information disseminated to the public is reviewed for objectivity, utility, integrity, the use of sound statistical methods, and transparency of methods, sources, assumptions, and outcomes. Additionally, OA undergoes management and independent peer reviews on a recurring basis.

Each audit is extensively reviewed within OA. Audits of NSF operations and programs (internal audits) are reviewed by OIG senior management and OIG's Office of Counsel (OC). Prior to web-posting, OC also reviews reports to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act, Trade Secrets Act, Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, Federal Financial Management Improvement Act, E-Government Act of 2002, and the NSF Act.

OA also provides a copy of each audit report in draft to NSF or external auditee for review and comment prior to final dissemination. The audited entity’s comments are published in the final audit report, which is posted to our website.

OIG Investigations

The OIG Office of Investigations (OI) adheres to the Quality Standards for Investigations, promulgated by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, which prescribe professional standards for conduct of IG investigations. OI has standards and review procedures to ensure that information disseminated to the public is reviewed for objectivity, utility, integrity, the use of sound statistical methods where appropriate, and transparency of methods, sources, assumptions, and outcomes. OI also undergoes management and independent peer reviews on a recurring basis.

Each investigation is extensively reviewed within OI. All investigate reports are reviewed by OIG senior management. Copies of reports of investigation pertaining to substantiated research misconduct and employee misconduct are provided in draft to the subjects of the investigation for review and comment prior to referral to decisional authorities. OI addresses subjects’ comments in the final report.

We post Case Closeout Memoranda on our website. Case Closeout Memoranda briefly describe the matter investigated and its outcome. These memoranda are reviewed by the case attorney to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Trade Secrets Act before posting.

Affected persons may seek correction of information disseminated by OIG that allegedly does not comply with OMB or OIG guidelines.

Correction requests must be submitted by mail or email at the following address:

National Science Foundation
Office of Inspector General

ATTN:  OIG FOIA Attorney
2415 Eisenhower Ave
Alexandria, VA  22314

E-mail: foiaoig@nsf.gov

Requests for Correction must include:

  • A statement that the request for correction of information is submitted under the OIG’s Information Quality Guidelines.
  • Requestor contact information, including the name, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, and organizational affiliation (if any) of the person requesting the correction.
  • Description of information to be corrected, including name of the OIG report or data product, date of issuance or other identifying information such as the URL of the web page(s), and a detailed description that clearly identifies the specific information contained in that report or data product for which a correction is being sought.
  • A description of how the information fails to meet either the OMB or OIG Information Quality Guidelines.
  • An explanation that describes how the alleged error harms the requestor or how a correction would benefit the requestor. OIG may reject claims and need not respond substantively to requests from persons who fail to establish that they are affected by the subject information.
  • Specific recommendations for how the information should be corrected.
  • Supporting documentary evidence, such as comparable data or research results on the same topic, which will help in evaluating the merits of the request.

Requestors must demonstrate the need for correction and indicate the type of correction sought. Corrective action will be determined by the nature and timeliness of the information involved and such factors as the significance of the error on the use of the information, the magnitude of the error, and the cost of undertaking a correction. OIG is not required to alter the content or status of information based only a correction request.

If OIG did not disseminate the information within one year of the request, we may regard the information as stale for purposes of responding to a correction request. OIG need not respond substantively to requests that are frivolous or repetitive, that concern matters not covered by the guidelines, or that are from a person not affected by the information. Parties whose identities are concealed are presumed to be unaffected by the information made available to the public. Subjects who have been allowed to review and comment upon draft reports of investigation are also presumed to be unaffected by the information made available to the public (the final report of investigation).

OIG Response to Correction Requests

OIG’s FOIA Attorney reviews and responds to correction requests on the office’s behalf. Normally we will respond within 30 working days of  receipt. If the request requires more than 30 working days to resolve, we will inform the requestor that more time is required and indicate an estimated decision date. The final response will explain the findings and the actions to be taken (if any) in response to the request.

If the requestor disagrees with OIG’s denial of a request or with corrective action OIG intends to take, the requestor may file a request for reconsideration with the Counsel to the Inspector General. Requests for reconsideration must include supporting documentation and be postmarked or transmitted by e-mail within 30 calendar days of the date that OIG transmitted its decision on the original request for correction. Requests received after the deadline will be denied as untimely. The Counsel to the Inspector General will respond to all requests for reconsideration within 30 working days.