[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 190 (Tuesday, October 1, 2002)]
[Pages 61699-61701]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-24866]



Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, 
Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by the U.S. Nuclear 
Waste Technical Review Board

AGENCY: U.S Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

ACTION: Final notice.


SUMMARY: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued government 
wide guidelines (OMB Guidelines) as required by Section 515 of the 
Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 
(Pub. L. 106-554; H.R. 5658) to ensure and maximize the quality of 
information disseminated by Federal agencies. The OMB Guidelines were 
published on September 28, 2001, (66 FR 49718) and on January 3, 2002, 
(67 FR 369) and reprinted in their entirety on February 22, 2002, (67 
FR 8452); Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, 
Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by 
Federal Agencies. Each Federal agency is required to issue its own set 
of guidelines to comply with the Section 515 requirements.
    The U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (Board) is making its 
final information guidelines available both in the Federal Register and 
on its Web site at www.nwtrb.gov. These information guidelines include 
the proposed complaint and review process for addressing public 
requests for correcting information. Please bear in mind that the 
purpose of the complaint and review process is to deal with information 
quality, not to resolve underlying substantive policy or legal issues 
or factual disputes.
    Comments received will be reviewed and their disposition included 
in the Board's annual report to OMB in Section 515.
    The Board's information quality guidelines apply to information 
first disseminated by the Board on or after October 1, 2002 and do not 
include archived information disseminated previously.

NWTRB Guidelines for Disseminating Information

Board Mandate

    The U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board was established by 
Public Law 100-203, Part E, to ``evaluate the technical and scientific 
validity of activities undertaken by the Secretary [of Energy] after 
the date of the enactment of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 
1987, including: (1) [Yucca Mountain] site characterization activities; 
and (2) activities relating to the packaging or transporting of high-
level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel.''
    To carry out its mandate, the Board strives for a high standard of 
quality in reviewing the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) technical 
and scientific activities. The Board holds open meetings, routinely 
schedules time for public comment at its meetings, and actively 
solicits the opinions of experts in fields allied with topics under 
    The Board also makes every effort to ensure the quality, 
objectivity, utility, and integrity of information that it 
disseminates. In developing these guidelines, the Board has followed 
the requirements set out by the OMB.

Information Disseminated by the Board

    The Board was charged by Congress with providing technical and 
scientific advice to Congress and the Secretary of Energy based on the 
expert opinion of Board members. The mandate of the Board is to provide 
unbiased, expert advice. The quality of the information the Board 
provides is central to the Board's mission. Therefore, the Board makes 
every attempt to ensure that the process it uses to derive its opinions 
is open, and that standard scientific processes are sued.
    In accordance with its mandate, the Board performs an evaluation of 
the technical and scientific validity of factual information provided 
by the DOE. The Board does not normally originate technical and 
scientific research or data. Consequently, information disseminated by 
the Board is almost without exception based on Board-member opinion of 
the information that has been presented to it. Like all expert 
judgments, Board

[[Page 61700]]

opinions have a subjective element. Thus, every effort is made to 
ensure that they meet the standards of objectivity, reproducibility, 
and transparency described in the OMB guidelines.
    To clarify how the Board conducts its reviews, the following 
guidelines for the information the Board disseminates have been 
formalized from procedures that were already in place. The guidelines 
have three elements. first, to the extent that Board opinions derive 
directly from specific technical analyses, those analyses are revealed. 
Second, the Board makes clear the logic and rationale for its expert 
opinions. Third, the Board makes every effort to ensure that the 
information on which it bases its opinions is credible.
    Technical analyses. The Board includes a discussion of technical 
analyses that form the basis of its expert opinions in its twice-yearly 
reports to Congress and the Secretary of Energy. In addition, such 
technical analyses are referenced in Board correspondence with the DOE 
and in correspondence with and testimony before Congress.
    Logic and rationale. To make the logic and rationale that support 
its opinions clear, the Board makes every effort to ensure that its 
findings and recommendations and the technical analysis on which they 
are based are understandable, relevant, and widely accessible.
    Credible information. To help ensure that its opinions are based on 
credible information, the Board stays informed on progress in the 
program by holding meetings several times a year, by being updated on 
current scientific and technical research, by conducting field 
observations, and by gathering information from parties to the process 
and experts in related fields. The Board cites all materials referenced 
as supporting documentation in its reports and correspondence. However, 
even with its scrupulous review the quality of information from 
external sources cannot be guaranteed by the Board.
    From time to time, the Board retains technical experts to provide 
their opinions on specific technical and scientific issues related to 
the Board's review of the DOE program. Expert opinion generated or 
disseminated by these expert consultants are disseminated, the Board 
includes an appropriate disclaimer in the document, for example: ``The 
views in this document are those of the consultant and are not 
necessarily those of the Board.''
    In addition, Board members, staff members, and consultants may 
independently publish information in their areas of expertise, without 
implying the official Board endorsement of the views presented.

Process of Disseminating Information

    The Board strives for a high degree of transparency in its 
evaluation of the DOE program. Consequently, the Board ensures that all 
Board documents, covered by these guidelines, are widely disseminated 
and available to other organizations, to members of Congress, and to 
members of the public. The Board mails its twice-yearly reports and its 
meeting notices directly to its extensive mailing list. The Board makes 
all its reports, correspondence, congressional testimony, meeting 
transcripts, and other documents available on its Web site and on 
request. Most of these documents can be downloaded and are accessible 
to those who use assistive technology for reading online material.

Quality Management Principles

    In reviewing information for dissemination, the Board complies with 
statutory requirements for protecting certain information. The 
statutory requirements include the Privacy Act of 1974, the Freedom of 
Information Act, and the computer security provisions of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act. The Board strives to ensure that the information in 
Board documents is unbiased, relevant, accurate, and clear by using the 
following procedures.
    The Board reviews documents for adherence to quality standards as 
part of its internal review process. Board members and Board staff 
perform multiple reviews of Board reports, Board correspondence, Board 
congressional testimony, and other documents. All Board documents are 
reviewed for consistency and clarity. Text is edited to ensure that 
thoughts and arguments flow logically and are clear, concise, easy to 
read, and grammatically correct. Tables and charts are edited to ensure 
that they clearly and accurately illustrate and support points made in 
the text. Sound statistical and analytical techniques are used in 
developing Board documents.

Complaint and Review Procedures

Information Covered by These Guidelines

    Board guidelines include the following procedures for members of 
the public to seek and obtain appropriate correction of information 
disseminated by the NWTRB after October 1, 2002. Archived materials 
released prior to this date are not included in these guidelines unless 
they are revised. As required by OMB Guidelines, the NWTRB will report 
annually to the director of the OMB on the number and disposition of 
such requests received.

Information Not Covered By These Guidelines:

    [sbull] archival records
    [sbull] transcripts of meetings
    [sbull] correspondence with an individual
    [sbull] reports containing a disclaimer
    [sbull] dissemination for adjudicative processes

The Filing and Review Process

    Please follow the procedures provided on the Board's Web site for 
available from the Board's office. Provide the information requested on 
the form and submit it to [email protected] or to U.S. Nuclear Waste 
Technical Review Board; Section 515 Compliance; 2300 Clarendon Blvd., 
Suite 1300; Arlington, VA 22201.
    Each person submitting a complaint must describe the specific 
information that does not comply with OMB or NWTRB guidelines, and how 
they are affected by the information error. Requests that are specific 
and provide evidence to support the need for and type of correction 
will enable the Board to develop an appropriate response and remedy. A 
decision on whether and how to correct the information will be made 
within 60 days of receipt, and the requester will be notified of the 
decision by mail, telephone, e-mail, or fax, excepting unusual cases, 
as appropriate. If the complaint needs more time to resolve the Board 
will notify the complainant that the response will be delayed, the 
reason for the delay, and an estimated date for the response. The NWTRB 
may choose not to respond to requests based on claims deemed frivolous 
or unlikely to have substantial future effect.
    If the claim is denied, the requester may ask within 30 days of the 
date of the decision for reconsideration of the Board's decision. Such 
requests must be made by e-mail ([email protected]) or in writing (U.S. 
Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board; Director of Administration; 2300 
Clarendon Blvd., Suite 1300; Arlington, VA 22201). The NWTRB will then 
reconsider its decision. Reconsiderations will be made by the Director 
Administration or delegate. The claimant will be notified of the final 
decision within six weeks.
    If the claim is found valid, the Board will work with the 
complainant to resolve the issue satisfactorily within the resources of 
the Board. A correction may be made on the website, published in the 
Federal Register, an erratum may be included in further distribution of 
the material, or other avenues may be

[[Page 61701]]

discussed. The information corrected and actions taken will be included 
in the Boards Section 515 annual report to OMB.


    Quality: An encompassing term comprising utility, objectivity, and 
integrity, as defined below.
    Utility: The usefulness of the information to its intended users.
    Objectivity: A focus on ensuring that information is accurate, 
reliable, and unbiased, and that information products are presented in 
an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner.
    Integrity: The security of information from unauthorized access or 
revision to ensure that the information is not compromised through 
corruption or falsification.
    Information: Any communication or representation of knowledge, such 
as facts or data, in any form. This does not include individual Board 
member or staff opinions, where the agency makes it clear that what is 
being offered is someone's opinion rather than fact or the Board's 
    Dissemination: Agency-instituted or agency-sponsored distribution 
of information to the public. Dissemination under these guidelines does 
not include distributions limited to government employees or agency 
contractors or grantees; interagency or inraagency use or sharing of 
government information; and responses to requests for agency records 
under the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the Federal 
Advisory Committee Act, or other similar law.
    Influential: The Board can reasonably determine that dissemination 
of the information will have or does have a clear and substantial 
effect on important public policies.
    Reproducibility: The information is capable of being substantially 
reproduced, subject to an acceptable degree of imprecision.

    Dated: September 25, 2002.
William D. Barnard,
Executive Director, Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.
[FR Doc. 02-24866 Filed 9-30-02; 8:45 am]