Quality of Information
The Forest Service has developed administrative processes for reviewing and ensuring the quality of information it disseminates. These guidelines detail the process that allows the public to request correction of information disseminated by the Forest Service that they believe may be in error or not in compliance with Section 515 of the Treasure and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554, HR 5658) – also known as the Information Quality Act.
These guidelines apply to the Forest Service and the information it disseminates to the public for conducting regular Forest Service business. These guidelines do not create new regulations or impose any legally binding requirements or obligations on the Forest Service or the public or otherwise affect other available judicial review of Forest Service actions. Decisions regarding Information Quality Act requests will be made based on applicable statues, regulations, and requirements.
These guidelines apply to information disseminated on or after October 1, 2002.
Consulting with the Forest Service on an Information Product
Most Forest Service publications, reports, data files and other products contain the names, telephone numbers, and/or email addresses of knowledgeable staff who can assist users in understanding the information being presented. Users may want to consult first with the contact listed on the product before proceeding with a formal request for correction.
Request for Correction
Persons requesting a correction of information must include the following information in their request:
- Statement that the Request for Correction of Information is submitted under the Forest Service Information Quality Guidelines. Requestors contact information including name, mailing address, telephone number, email address, and organization affiliation (if any).
- Description of the Information to Correct including the name of the publication, report, or data product, date of issuance or other identifying information such as the URL where the item is located, and a detailed description that clearly identifies the specific information contained in that item for which a correction is being sought.
- Explanation of noncompliance with OMB/Forest Service information quality guidelines including a description of how the information fails to meet definitions of quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information disseminated by the Forest Service.
- Explanation of the effect of the alleged error including information on how the requestor is affected by the alleged error.
- A recommendation and justification for the information should be corrected. The requestor needs to state specifically, how the information should be corrected and explain why these corrections should be made. A request for correction needs to be specific and provide evidence to support the need for correction.
This guidance for the content of requests for correction of information is not intended to constitute a set of legally binding requirements. However, the Forest Service may be unable to process, in a timely fashion if at all, requests that omit one or more of the above elements. Requestors bear the “burden of proof” with respect to the necessity for correction as well as with the type of correction they seek. The Forest Service will base its decision on the merits of the information provided by the requestor.
All requests for correction will be submitted via email to the Forest Service Data Quality Official (FS-DQO). The FS-DQO will immediately notify the request of receipt, acknowledging that the Forest Service received the request. The FS-DQO will then coordinate with the program and/or office that disseminated the information being challenged to provide the requestor with a formal response within 60 calendar days. If the request cannot be processed within 60 days, the FS-DQO will notify the requestor with a specific date they can expect a response.
Frivolous requests, requests that fall under another process (such as public comment periods), or exempt requests (prior to October 1, 2002) will not be processed.
If a request is deemed appropriate for consideration, the Forest Service will take decide based on the information in question. If a request is approved, the Forest Service will take corrective action. If the request is not approved, the Forest Service will explain its reasoning for denying the request.
Requests for Reconsideration
If requestors are dissatisfied with a Forest Service decision regarding their Request for Correction, they may seek a reconsideration. Requests for Reconsideration must contain the following:
- A statement that person seeking an appeal of a Forest Service decision on a previously submitted request for correction of information, including the date of the original submission and date of Forest Service decision.
- Name and contact information.
- An explanation of why the appealing entity disagrees with the Forest Service decision, and if possible, a recommendation of corrective action.
The Forest Service cannot reconsider items that were not in the original Request for Correction.
Requests for Reconsiderations should be submitted to the Forest Service Data Quality Official (FS-DQO) within 45 calendar days of receiving an information correction request decision. Requests for reconsideration that have been submitted after 45 calendar days will be denied as untimely.
The FS-DQO will notify the requestor within 10 business days of receipt.
For reconsideration requests involving influential scientific, financial, statistical, or regulatory information the Forest Service will convene a panel to review the reconsideration. The Forest Service will provide a written response to the reconsideration request within 60 calendar days. If the Forest Service cannot provide a thorough review of the reconsideration within the 60 calendar days, the FS-DQO will notify the requestor and provide a date they could expect to have the response.
Data Quality Official - Contact Information
Please include contact information, and all of the pertinent details for your request.
The Forest Service will post all RFC, RFR’s and actions taken by the agency to its public facing website on a dedicated page for Information Quality and public disclosures. The Forest Service will include information on who requested the correction, the nature of the request, and corrections or actions taken, and any appropriate supporting documents.
USDA Forest Service is authorized to obtain certain information under Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law No. 106-554, codified at 44 U.S.C. 3516, note). Information is needed by USDA to process the request for correction and allow USDA to reply accordingly. This information is needed by the Forest Service to respond to the requestor and initiate follow-up contact with the requestor if required. Requestors should not send their Social Security Number. Requestors are advised that they do not have to furnish the information but failure to do so may prevent their request from being processed. The information requestors furnish is almost never used for any purpose other than to process and respond to their request. However, the Forest Service may disclose information to a congressional office in response to an inquiry made on behalf of the requestor, to the Department of Justice, a court, other tribunal when the information is relevant and necessary to litigation, or to a contractor or another Federal agency to help accomplish a function related to this process.