The Census Bureau has established procedures to allow persons to seek correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency subject to section 515 guidelines. These procedures take effect on October 1, 2002.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued government-wide Information Quality Guidelines [PDF - <1.0 MB] at 67 FR 8452-8460 (February 22, 2002) that provide policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information, they disseminate. Agencies are required to issue their own implementing guidelines, including corrections procedures, and to make the guidelines available on individual agency websites. In accord with Public Law 106-554, "affected persons" (individuals or entities that use, benefit from, or are harmed by the disseminated information at issue) may seek to correct "information disseminated by the agency that does not comply with applicable information quality guidelines." To seek a correction of information maintained or disseminated by the Census Bureau that does not comply with all applicable information quality guidelines, the affected person should follow the procedure described below.
The Census Bureau has many different statistical programs. Some of these have pre-existing procedures established to deal with correcting data; others do not. Please refer to the appropriate Census Bureau program listed below for specific program procedures and contact information.
In all cases, if the complaint concerns an information quality guidelines violation, the affected person must include the name of the report, data set, or product and a detailed description of the information the affected person wishes to correct, including an explanation of how the information does not comply with applicable information quality guidelines. The complaint should include specific recommendations for how and why the information should be corrected, and show how he or she is affected by the information error. The complainant bears the burden of proof with respect to the necessity for correction as well as with respect to the type of correction sought. The affected person must provide his/her name, mailing address, telephone number, fax number (if any), e-mail address (if any), and organizational affiliation (if any).
In cases where the Census Bureau disseminates a study, analysis, or other information prior to the final Census Bureau information product, requests for correction will be considered prior to the final information product in those cases where the Census Bureau has determined that an earlier response would not unduly delay issuance of the information product and the complainant has shown a reasonable likelihood of suffering actual harm from the Census Bureau's dissemination if the Census Bureau does not resolve the complaint prior to the final information product.
Based on the explanation and evidence submitted, the Census Bureau will review the information being challenged, the processes that were used to create and disseminate it, and how it conforms to the Census Bureau's Information Quality Guidelines and all applicable Department of Commerce (DOC) and OMB Information Quality Guidelines. After its review, the Census Bureau will determine whether a correction is warranted, and, if so, what action to take. Any corrective action, and the timeframe for taking this 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, and the magnitude of the error. Corrective actions will vary from immediate correction or replacement of information on the Census Bureau website, to revision of subsequent issues of recurring products, to issuance of errata for printed reports and other data products. The Census Bureau will provide the public with timely notification of any information the Census Bureau intends to correct.
The Census Bureau will respond in writing to the affected person within 60 days of receiving the complaint. The Census Bureau does not have to respond substantively to requests that concern information not covered by the guidelines or from a person whom the information does not affect. If the Census Bureau has completed its review, the response will explain the process that the Census Bureau followed in its review of the complaint, and the findings of the review. If correction is warranted, the response will include a progress report, and a subsequent letter will be sent when the correction action is complete. If correction is not warranted, the Census Bureau will explain that a correction will not be made, and why.
If the Census Bureau has not completed its review, the response will notify the affected person that a review is underway, and provide an expected completion date. When the review is complete the Census Bureau will again contact the affected person in writing, and explain the process that the Census Bureau followed in its review of the complaint, and the findings of the review. If correction is warranted, the response will include a progress report, and a subsequent letter will be sent when the correction action is complete. If correction is not warranted, the Census Bureau will explain that a correction will not be made, and why.
If the affected person wishes to appeal the Census Bureau response, he or she should provide in writing a justification supporting the appeal that responds as specifically as possible to the reasons the Census Bureau gives in rejecting the initial request for correction. The appeals process, when not separately defined in the programs listed on the left hand menu, will be managed by a panel determined by the Chair of the Methodology and Standards Council. Appeals must be initiated within 30 calendar days of the date of the initial decision, and must be submitted to the Quality Program Staff, Attn: Census Bureau Information Quality, ADRM HQ-2K071, U.S. Census Bureau, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington DC 20233. The Census Bureau will respond to all requests for appeals within 60 days of receipt. If the request requires more than 60 days to resolve, the Census Bureau will inform the complainant that more time is required and indicate the reason why and an estimated decision date.