Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen
It is no secret that I constantly sell the idea that an alliance needs to be made between the North American Health Freedom Movement and the Autism communities. I keep pointing out that each community, having operated on their own for years, have developed strategies and tactics that serve them well.
My best argument, made to the Health Freedom Movement, FOR that alliance is simple: I point out that the Autism community is the best public example of what happens when a social, in this case medical, system goes bad, and stays bad – an issue we fight every day in Health Freedom. I also point out that the Autism community is LARGE and ANGRY. Then too, Autism seems to be an affliction of the Upper Middle Class – people who do not take “no” for an answer – and they generally are of the opinion that the government works for them – not the other way around. Just like us.
My best argument to the Autism community, FOR that alliance is that the Health Freedom movement has separate components that work together, we have a very good track record, we are experienced, and we are used to dealing with the human filth that inhabits the formal opposition. We know when to put on a biohazard suit, and go into the fray with fumigation equipment, so to speak.
In middle March of 2007 I got a call from Anne Dachel from Age of Autism (AOA) asking me why I hadn’t done any articles on the Autism problem. My answer was direct: Because, Anne, I said, “I don’t know anything about the issue.”
What evolved from that was a collaboration between Kenneth Stoller, MD, FAAP and Anne Dachel to write two superb articles for my newsletter: “Throwing children into oncoming traffic: The truth about Autism” and “The Mushroom Cloud that Caused Autism”.
You can read those by clicking on the titles.
Coming to the point…
So, when Ken Stoller MD calls me at home at 8:30 PM at night to talk to me about my latest Autism article “Vaccines – The Emperor Has No Clothes…,” I take the call. Ken is a fountain of information.
Ken’s comments on my article centered around what’s called the “Data Quality Act” and its prospective use in the situation I described surrounding the State Department’s issuance of an unsigned, un-accounted-for, document to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) on mercury claiming that mercury was no problem in vaccinations.
I suggest you read, carefully, the linked article “Federal Agencies Subject to Data Quality Act” – By Susan M. Bisong of Modrall Sperling. But, for now, let me give you the gist of what you are going to read, because this is a powerful tool for us to use:
“The Data Quality Act (DQA) is an attempt by Congress to ensure that federal agencies use and disseminate accurate information. The DQA requires federal agencies to issue information quality guidelines ensuring the quality, utility, objectivity and integrity of information that they disseminate and provide mechanisms for affected persons to correct such information. It is important for natural resources and environmental attorneys to be aware of this law in the event that a client has an interest in filing a petition with an agency to challenge the quality of information it has used or disseminated. Questions that remain unanswered about the DQA are whether agency information quality guidelines apply to rule-making and whether an agency’s denial of a petition to correct information is reviewable by the courts.
- Background Information
In 1980, Congress enacted the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) in response to the federal government’s growing demand for data from small businesses, individuals, and state and local governments and attempted to institute controls over government requests for data. 44 U.S.C. § 3501(1). Under the PRA, Congress established the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and designated it as the overseer of other federal agencies with respect to paperwork. 44 U.S.C. § 3503(a) and (b). The OIRA is responsible for developing uniform policies for efficient information processing, storage, and transmittal systems, both within and among agencies. Id.
The DQA, which is uncodified, amends the PRA. 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. It was enacted in December of 2000 as a two-paragraph provision buried in an appropriations bill. See Treasury and General Government Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 2001, Pub. L. No. 106-554, § 515 Appendix C, 114 Stat. 2763A-153 (2000) (attached to the back of this memo). The DQA took effect on October 1, 2002, the deadline for federal agencies to issue their final information quality guidelines.
- Purpose of the Data Quality Act
Congress enacted the DQA primarily in response to increased use of the internet, which gives agencies the ability to communicate information easily and quickly to a large audience. Under the DQA, federal agencies must ensure that the information it disseminates meets certain quality standards. Congress’ intent was to prevent the harm that can occur when government websites, which are easily and often accessed by the public, disseminate inaccurate information. See Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies; Republication, 67 F.R. 8452, 8452 (Feb. 22, 2002).“
There is a lot more to read – especially for those of us contemplating its use.
So how does the “Data Quality Act” actually work?
That’s the question. Despite my intent, last night, to go to bed early and read the DQA material in the morning, Ken had my attention, and I began to read. Time flew by.
The most interesting article on the subject I found was about the use of the DQA in the enactment of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). ESA management, as required, established an ESA DQA program (see how quickly I can fall into government alphabet jargon?) called “The purposes, effects, and future of the Endangered Species Act’s best available science mandate.”
The key statement here is the “best available science mandate” phrase in the title. Think how that phrase, forced on the vaccine construction, would impact the vaccine debate. Just below I will give you the outline for the Endangered Species Act plan to follow DQA guidelines. Imagine applying this outline to the vaccine argument.
II. THE BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE MANDATE
A. Overview of the Endangered Species Act
B. The Best Available Science Mandate: Statutory and Regulatory
Requirements for Consideration of Science and Observation of
1. Statutory Requirements
2. Implementing Regulations and Policies
III. A BRIEF TAXONOMY OF STANDARDS FOR SCIENTIFIC DATA
A. Research Science: Replication and Review
B. Courtroom Science: Relevance and Reliability
C. Regulatory Science: “Sound Science, ” Precautionary Principle,
or Agency Discretion?
IV. THE FUNCTIONS OF THE ESA’s BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE MANDATE
A. The Intent Behind the Best Available Science Mandate
B. The Effects of the Best Available Science Mandate in Practice
1. Substantive Decision Making
a. Why Science is Net Enough
b. Why the Best Available Science Mandate Plays Only a
Limited Substantive Role
2. Public Trust and Political Accountability
3. Altering the Terms of Judicial Review
4. Changing the Decision-Making Process
V. MAKING THE BEST OF THE BEST AVAILABLE SCIENCE MANDATE
A. Openly Acknowledge the Limits of Science
B. Increase the Knowledge Base
C. Build Public Trust
Would the “best available science mandate” mean, for instance, that we would NOT have to suffer though another so-called study where a small bunch of bureaucrats, along with their “stakeholders,” claim to REVIEW other studies – like the one written about in the New York Times just the other day? Where was the science in that?
The most disappointing article I found on the subject talks about the two lawsuits against federal agencies that failed to force the agencies to change their so-called science. The courts, so far, have decided that they, the courts, do not have jurisdiction to enforce the DQA. Too bad.
However, I read, carefully, the appeals court decisions – and sooner or later some law firm is going to get the argument formula exactly right, and that will be the day that federal agencies will be forced to comply. Agencie, I think, from my reading, know this is coming, and are complying more, and more, with the DQA requirements.
So, to me, now is the time to start hammering certain agencies with compliance demands.
Attorney Paul S. Weiland, of Nossman LLP, I thinks says it best in his article “Data Quality Act Provides Under-utilized Tool to Challenge Federal Agency Use of Faulty Information; Four Years After its Enactment Effect of Act Remains Unclear.”
“Irrespective of the ultimate view of the courts regarding judicial review of agency responses to requests for correction of information, the administrative procedure mandated by Congress in the DQA and implemented by OMB and the federal agencies provides stakeholders with a formalized opportunity to ask agencies to evaluate the quality of information they disseminate. Whereas existing administrative and environmental laws provide stakeholders with an opportunity to engage agencies at prescribed intervals during agency decision-making processes (for example, the Administrative Procedure Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and National Forest Management Act), the DQA provides stakeholders with an opportunity to seek correction of information at any time along the decision-making continuum. This supplemental opportunity to establish a dialog with federal agencies may prove a valuable procedural device to individuals and organizations that are affected by agency activities.”
Paul Weiland has litigated environmental matters in trial and appellate courts under a variety of statutes, including the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.
And, Guess What? The US State Department Has an Established DQA Program…
You can read it by clicking here.
One more thing.
Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate