The following comprises the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Inspector General (OIG) Information Quality Guidelines. They are intended to supplement USDA's Quality of Information Guidelines.
These guidelines are intended to ensure accuracy in OIG reports and other products disseminated to the public and have been adopted pursuant to section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001, Pub. Law No. 106-554, app. C, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-153 (codified at 44 U.S.C § 3516 note and commonly referred to as the Information Quality Act (IQA)). They apply only to OIG audit reports, reports of investigation that are disseminated to the public, inspection reports, and publicly disseminated OIG data products. They do not apply to reports of investigation of employee misconduct or illegal activity that are only submitted to Federal or State prosecutors for purposes of criminal prosecution or to USDA components for purposes of administrative discipline. Additionally, they do not apply to memoranda of law, or other legal advice, prepared by the OIG Office of Counsel to assist OIG components in the performance of their responsibilities.
The steps described on this page reflect OIG’s normal practice and may vary to some degree from one review to another. This description does not confer any rights upon a subject or witness of an OIG investigation to pre-issuance review, which is reserved to the Inspector General's discretion and judgment. The remedies provided in these guidelines are limited to what is listed.
- The Deputy Inspector General will be responsible for overall implementation and oversight of information quality guidelines for OIG.
- The Deputy Inspector General will be responsible for receiving and responding to requests for correction and for producing the annual report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding complaints and how they are addressed.
- The Inspector General will be responsible for considering and responding to requests for reconsideration of requests for correction.
OIG has adopted standards of quality that assure utility, objectivity, and integrity. In addition, statistical information disseminated by OIG is based on sound statistical methods and the principle of transparency.
For purposes of these guidelines, the following definitions apply:
- Utility - refers to the usefulness of disseminated data and other information for its intended users and for its intended purposes.
- Objectivity - means that disseminated information is accurate, reliable, and unbiased as a matter of presentation and substance.
- Integrity - refers to data’s security, i.e., protection of the information from unauthorized access 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, sources, assumptions, outcomes, and related information that will allow the data user to understand how the information produced was designed or produced.
- Influential - (when used in the phrase “influential scientific, financial, or statistical information") refers to information that USDA OIG can reasonably determine will have a clear and substantial impact at the national level on major public or private policy decisions.
- Quality - is an encompassing term comprising utility, objectivity, and integrity.
OIG has standards and review procedures in place that assure 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.
The OIG Office of Audit is responsible for independent audits of USDA programs, computer systems, and financial statements, as well as audits of entities doing business with or receiving benefits from USDA. The Office of Audit also conducts inspections and non-audit services of USDA programs and activities in some cases. The reports from these engagements are normally posted on the OIG web site.
The Office of Audit adheres to the Government Auditing Standards (Yellow Book) issued by the Government Accountability Office, or the Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation issued by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), as appropriate, as well as OIG’s directives. The Yellow Book prescribes generally accepted government auditing standards, CIGIE’s Quality Standards provide such standards for inspections and evaluations, and OIG directives set standards for non-audit services. Further, with regard to all Office of Audit products, OIG’s directives establish the internal OIG procedures to be followed by the Office of Audit, including the supervisory review of audit working papers and reports and the independent referencing of all audit reports prior to issuance. Further, the Office of Audit undergoes both management and peer reviews on a recurring basis.
In addition to these standards, each Office of Audit product is subject to extensive review within the Office of Audit. Reports and other products are also reviewed by OIG senior management. A copy of each report is provided in draft to the USDA agency that was the subject of the engagement for review and comment prior to final dissemination. The audited entity’s comments are published in the final report.
Prior to posting on the OIG website, the audit reports are reviewed by the OIG Office of Counsel to ensure compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (FOIA), and the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a.
Pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978 (IG Act), the OIG Office of Investigations conducts investigations of alleged fraud, waste, and abuse in USDA programs and operations. Additionally, designated OIG investigators have been granted law enforcement authority pursuant to section 1337 of the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981, 7 U.S.C. § 2270, and in accordance with implementing regulations at 7 C.F.R. pt. 1a. The Office of Investigations conducts investigations of significant criminal activities involving USDA programs, operations, and personnel. Generally, reports of investigation are not disseminated to the public by OIG and must be requested through the FOIA. However, on occasion, OIG may disseminate a report of investigation to the public.
The Office of Investigations adheres to CIGIE’s Quality Standards for Investigations, and OIG’s directives. The Quality Standards for Investigations prescribe general and qualitative investigative standards. OIG’s directives establish the internal OIG procedures to be followed by the Office of Investigations, and incorporate Attorney General guidelines as appropriate. In addition, the Office of Investigations undergoes peer review and internal review on a recurring basis.
The Office of Analytics and Innovation (OAI) is responsible for developing advanced analytical tools for fraud detection and performance risk management assessments. OIG’s directives establish the internal OIG procedures followed by OAI.
Information Correction Request and Appeal Process
All requests for correction of OIG information must be submitted by letter, fax, or e-mail to the Deputy Inspector General:
USDA Office of Inspector General
ATTN: Deputy Inspector General
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Mail Stop 2301
Washington, D.C. 20250-2301
Requests for correction should include the following information:
- A statement that the request for correction of information is submitted under OIG’s Information Quality Guidelines.
- Requestor contact information, including the name, mailing address, telephone number, fax number (if any), e-mail address (if any), and organizational affiliation (if any) of the person requesting the correction.
- Description of information to be corrected, including the name of the OIG report or data product, the date of issuance or other identifying information, and a detailed description that clearly identifies the specific information contained in that report or data product for which a correction is being sought.
- Explanation of noncompliance with OMB or OIG Information Quality Guidelines, including an explanation that describes how information fails to meet the OMB or OIG Information Quality Guidelines.
- Explanation of the effect of the alleged error, including an explanation that describes how the alleged error harms the requestor or how a correction would benefit the requestor.
- Recommendation and justification for how the information should be corrected, including an explanation that gives the requestor’s specific recommendations for how the information should be corrected and that describes the requestor’s position as to why OIG should adopt those recommendations.
- Documentary evidence that will help in evaluating the merits of the request, such as comparable data or research results on the same topic.
Requestors bear the burden of proof with respect to the necessity for correction as well as with respect to the type of correction they seek. OIG will base its decision on the merits of the information provided by the requestor and will not attempt to contact the requestor to obtain additional information when the submission by the requestor is incomplete.
The Deputy Inspector General is responsible for managing OIG's process for responding to a request for correction. Based on the explanation and evidence submitted with the request for correction, the OIG office that produced the report will conduct a review of the information being challenged, the processes that were used to create and disseminate the information, and the conformity of the information and those processes with OMB’s and OIG’s Information Quality Guidelines. The preparing office will submit its response to the request for correction to the Deputy Inspector General. After the Deputy Inspector General has completed review of the request for correction and the response and consulted with OIG Management, the Deputy Inspector General will determine whether a correction is warranted, and, if so, what corrective action to take.
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 change, or in any way alter, the content or status of information based only on the receipt of a request for correction.
OIG need not respond substantively to frivolous or repetitive requests for correction. Nor does OIG have to respond substantively to requests that concern information not covered by the guidelines or from a person whom the information does not affect.
After making a final determination pertaining to a request for correction of information, the Deputy Inspector General will respond to the requestor by letter, e-mail, or fax. The response will explain the finding and the actions to be taken (if any) in response to the complaint.
OIG will normally respond to requests for correction of information within 60 calendar days of receipt. If the request requires more than 60 calendar days to resolve, OIG will inform the requestor that more time is required and indicate the reason why and an estimated decision date. OIG will provide a response within 120 days, including any extensions, unless the requester agrees to an additional extension.
If the requestor disagrees with OIG’s denial of the request or with the corrective action OIG intends to take, the requestor may file a request for reconsideration with the Inspector General (Reconsideration Official). Persons desiring to file a request for reconsideration should submit the request by letter, fax, or e-mail as follows:
USDA Office of Inspector General
ATTN: Inspector General
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Mail Stop 2301
Washington, D.C. 20250-2301
Persons requesting reconsideration should also submit written material to support their case for reconsideration. They should not re-submit the information originally submitted to support the request for correction.
Requests for reconsideration must be filed with OIG (postmarked or shipped by an overnight delivery service, or emailed or faxed) within 45 calendar days of the date that OIG transmitted its decision on the original request for correction. Requests for reconsideration that are received by OIG after the 45-calendar day deadline will be denied as untimely.
In making a determination regarding the request for reconsideration, the Inspector General will review the information in question and the material submitted in support of the request for reconsideration, the material submitted with the original request for correction, and OIG’s response to that request.
After the Inspector General has made a decision on the request for reconsideration, OIG will respond to the requestor by letter, e-mail, or fax. The response will explain OIG’s decision and the action OIG will take (if any) in response to the request for reconsideration.
OIG will normally respond to all requests for reconsideration within 60 calendar days of receipt. If the request requires more than 60 calendar days to resolve, OIG will inform the requestor that more time is required and indicate the reason why and an estimated decision date.
OIG will submit an annual report to OMB on the number and nature of complaints received by OIG regarding its compliance with the IQA, and how those complaints were resolved.
USDA OIG will post all Requests for Correction, Requests for Reconsideration, and actions taken by the agency to its public facing website in the same location as the USDA OIG report or product to which the request relates. USDA OIG will include information on who requested the correction, the nature of the request, and corrections or actions taken, and any appropriate supporting documents.
Public Disclosure of Requests
- Decision letter by OIG to R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (PDF, 3.3 MB) (January 31, 2014)
- Response letter by OIG to R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (PDF, 20.3 KB) (December 27, 2013)
- Response letter by OIG to R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (PDF, 21.4 KB) (October 31, 2013)
- Response letter by OIG to R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (pdf, 22.1 KB) (September 26, 2013)
- Response letter by OIG to R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (pdf, 28.4 KB) (June 28, 2013)
- Supplemental complaint and request for correction by R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (pdf, 101 KB) (May 9, 2013)
- Acknowledgement by OIG to R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (pdf, 73.9 KB) (April 19, 2013)
- Complaint by R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America (pdf, 58.1 KB) (April 5, 2013)