IT Policy & Oversight
Enacted in 2015, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) is designed to increase CIO’s visibility into the organization’s Information Technology. This is done through improved integration of the CIO in the planning, budgeting, execution, and workforce components of NOAA’s IT.
Data Policy & Oversight
The position of the NOAA Chief Data Officer (CDO) was first established within the Office of the Chief Information Officer in 2017. The NOAA CDO has responsibility delegated by the NOAA CIO and Commerce CDO for overseeing the implementation of the Evidence Act, Paperwork Reduction Act, Information Quality Act, Privacy Act, and Freedom of Information Act.
The NOAA CDO represents NOAA at the Department of Commerce’s Commerce Data Governance Board (established in 2019) and is the Chair of NOAA’s Environmental Data Management Committee, which reports both to the NOAA CIO Council and the NOAA Observing Systems Council.
The Evidence Act was enacted in 2019, and directs Agencies to manage their data as an asset. It defines the responsibilities of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) within Federal Agencies and assigns to her/him the oversight of the full data lifecycle, data inventories, PRA, IQA, open data plans, and other related activities and policies. Many open data and data sharing directives from the White House have been codified in the Evidence Act, with the result being that all NOAA data default to open (can be used or reused by the public without restriction) unless such sharing is expressly prohibited by other law and regulation. These data include not just NOAA environmental data, but include programmatic, financial, and other administrative data as well, and the documentation, code (e.g. computer programs), and quality information about the data.
Members of the public can submit FOIA requests for agency records through FOIAOnline, the public portal through which NOAA discloses records requested by the public, subject to any applicable FOIA exemptions. Additionally, members of the public can view records that have been previously disclosed in response to FOIA requests via FIOAOnline. NOAA also makes frequently requested records, FOIA laws and policies, and other FOIA resources available to the public at the NOAA FOIA Reading Room.
The Information Quality Act ("IQA") requires federal government agencies to employ sound science in making regulations and disseminating information. It also provides a mechanism for people and companies to challenge government information they believe to be inaccurate. Business, consumer, environmental and conservation groups have all used it to pursue changes in government policies.
Under the Guidelines, the term "quality" encompasses "utility," "objectivity," and "integrity," meaning the information should be useful to the public, secure from unauthorized revision, and objective in its presentation and substance.
The information must be accurate, reliable and unbiased, and based on sound research methods. Information that is "influential scientific, financial, or statistical information" - that is, information that has a substantial impact on important public policies or private sector decisions - also must be reproducible to demonstrate its objectivity. The IQA policies were revised by the Office of Management and Budget in 2019 to include not just reports on information, but also the original data themselves. The quality information should be made available and understandable to the downstream users of these data and information products.
See NOAA Information Quality for more information and guidance.
The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) is a law governing how federal agencies collect and share information with the American public. Ensuring proper collection of information, with appropriate clearances, protects NOAA decisions and rule-making made based on the data from legal challenges. If uncleared collections or changes to collections are not properly cleared in a timely manner, the Office of Management and Budget may insist that those data collections are stopped. The PRA also guides how NOAA’s data must be shared with the American public, in a fair and equitable manner. The PRA direction on data sharing is incorporated into NOAA’s open data and data partnership plans and policies.
See the Paperwork Reduction Act Guidance page for information and guidance on how to develop a PRA data collection package.
The Privacy Act of 1974 establishes a code of fair information practices that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of information about individuals that is maintained in a system of records by federal agencies.
A listing of each Privacy document that NOAA has published, as well as the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for each system NOAA operates that contains PII, is available on the Department of Commerce Privacy Program page.
NOAA Record Management Policy and Guidance: Managing recorded information is an important responsibility of every Federal agency. Title 44 U.S.C. 2901 defines records management as “the managerial activities involved with respect to records creation, records maintenance, and use, and records disposition in order to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal government and effective and economical management of agency operations.“
See the NOAA Records Management page for more information and resources.