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RE: Question for Sept 19: What about EPA's info?

Again, I start out agreeing with Velma Smith that EPA's effort to put information on the internet is without parallel in the federal government and has generally improved over time. Moreover, the regulated community has found EPA increasingly willing to implement (or at least talk about) reasonable procedures to help ensure the quality and fairness of their sites. For instance, EPA has said it will institute an "Information Products Bulletin" that would give people some advance notice of upcoming web pages or similar 'information products.' This would help identify mistakes or misleading information before it goes live. (These kind of mistakes happen: Pennsylvania DEP put up a website about 18 months ago purporting to list all the UST owner/operators who were out of compliance. Only problem was a great deal of the people listed actually were in compliance. Checking your data first is always a good idea.) EPA is also beginning to implement an "Integrated Error Correction Process" that gives people a one-stop place to go for getting data errors fixed. It's now operational in Envirofacts. The Privacy Act guarantees these sort of protections for individual data; it makes sense to afford them to organizations, too.

On a different note (sorry for the long message), I'd be interested in what state and local government officials feel about how EPA websites (e.g., the Index of Watershed Indicators) characterize their jurisdictions. In some cases, EPA is trying to take on a job that arguably is more properly a state/local one. In the process, it also is sometimes trying to compare data that just aren't comparable (e.g., because state water quality standards, designated use standards, and monitoring practices differ).

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