The Census Bureau’s statistical quality standards apply to all the Census Bureau’s information products and the programs that develop and release those products, as described in the Scope statement in the Preface to these standards. If a program is unable to comply with any requirements of these standards, the program manager must apply for a waiver; however, no waivers to Statistical Quality Standard S1, Protecting Confidentiality, will be granted.
This waiver procedure provides a consistent mechanism to excuse a program from compliance with a statistical quality standard, when the circumstances warrant it. This procedure also promotes proper management and control in implementing the standards and ensures that appropriate documentation of exceptions to the standards is generated and maintained. This documentation is important for providing transparency into the quality of the Census Bureau’s information products and for informing future revisions of the statistical quality standards.
This procedure applies to all instances of noncompliance with a statistical quality standard – either anticipated noncompliance or noncompliance instances identified after-the-fact.
Waivers should be applied for and may be granted on the basis that:
- Compliance with a standard would violate the Census Bureau’s confidentiality protections on personal or business identifiable information or confidentiality protections for any other information protected by law (e.g., Title 13 and Title 26), Census Bureau policies, or data-use agreements.
- Compliance with a standard would cause a major adverse financial impact on a Census Bureau program or a federal computer system that is not offset by bureau-wide or government-wide savings.
- Compliance with a standard would introduce inefficiencies that generate significant and continuing costs that outweigh long-term benefits of compliance.
- Another agency’s requirements for information require a variance from a standard, as long as the variance would not violate any Census Bureau policies.
- The affected program manager, in collaboration with the program area’s Research and Methodology Assistant Division Chief (ADC) and M&S Council representative, must prepare a waiver request using the form Request for a Waiver of a Statistical Quality Standard.
In the waiver request, the program manager must:
The program manager must email the waiver request to Quality Program Staff to review for completeness and accuracy.
After correcting any problems noted by the Quality Program Staff, the program manager must submit the completed waiver request to their Division Chief for concurrence.
The Division Chief will review the waiver request and, if concurring, forward it to the Methodology and Standards (M&S) Council.
The M&S Council will review the waiver request and, as appropriate, distribute it for further review by stakeholders.
The M&S Council will recommend one of the following and provide a justification for the recommendation:
- Indicate the standard and the specific requirement(s) to be waived.
- Indicate the program(s)/survey(s) to be exempted by the waiver.
- Indicate the date when the waiver should take effect.
- Describe the noncompliance issue and explain why the program area is not able to comply with the specific requirements of the standard.
- Describe any anticipated effects that may result from the noncompliance.
- Describe the corrective actions planned to achieve compliance, the date the program will be brought into compliance, and any actions to be taken to mitigate the effects of noncompliance.
The M&S Council will forward the waiver request and the Council’s recommendation to the Associate Director responsible for the program.
The Associate Director will approve or deny the waiver and ensure that the Division Chief and the M&S Council receive a copy of the approved or denied waiver request.
The program manager must email a signed copy of the approved waiver to the Quality Program Staff or send a hard copy to Chief, Quality Program Staff, Research and Methodology Directorate.
The M&S Council will publish approved waiver requests on the M&S Council Intranet page.
The M&S Council will maintain records of all waiver requests and their resolutions and use them to inform future revisions of the standard.
If the waiver is granted, the program manager must develop a corrective action plan and implement the corrective actions described in the waiver request, within the timeline stated on the waiver request. If the corrective actions will not be implemented on time, another waiver must be requested.
The Quality Program Staff must follow-up on the implementation of the corrective action plan and periodically report on the progress to the M&S Council.
After the corrective action has been completed, the Quality Program Staff will notify the M&S Council and update the M&S Council Intranet page to indicate when the program came into compliance.
- Approve the waiver request,
- Deny the waiver request, or
- Modify the corrective action or compliance date in the waiver request.
If you have questions regarding the waiver procedure or whether a waiver is needed, contact the Quality Program Staff or the M&S Council.