Do We Need a Clean Information Quality Act?

Originally published May 9, 2007

“High Court Calls For Action on Emissions”
This headline caught my attention recently (The Tennessean, April 3, 2007). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in light of the increasing awareness that global warming is a global threat, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must do more to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases as a major contributing cause of global warming. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion, criticizing the EPA with “…to date the EPA has offered a ‘laundry list’ of reasons not to regulate those emissions.” The court said the EPA must tie its rationale more closely to the Clean Air Act.

I have followed the scientific studies on global warming and am convinced that this is the most serious threat that faces humankind today.

Poor Quality Information as a Threat to Humankind
The second most serious threat facing the world today is the costs and losses caused by poor quality information. Up to 96,000 U.S. hospital patients die each year as a result of preventable medical error (wrong patient, wrong procedure, wrong site, wrong medication or dosage, etc.). Additionally, many airline crashes have information quality problems as a contributing cause (recently, a plane crashed after taking off on the wrong runway).

The costs of consumer goods are from 5 to 10 percent higher than they should be in most organizations because of the added costs of process failure and recovery and “information scrap and rework” as the result of poor quality information.

Continued Information “Pollution” May Cause Legal Action
If businesses fail to proactively address their information quality problems that harmfully impact consumers, the government may help them by creating legislation. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act may be simply the first modern federal legislation requiring businesses to address information quality issues harmful to their consumers.

Of course, it is always best to avoid external regulation by doing what is right for your customers. Congress has already enacted the “Information Quality Act” that requires federal agencies that provide “influential” information to the public to be accountable for the quality (“quality, objectivity, utility and integrity”) of that information so that it does not cause the “information consumers” to make wrong decisions or take wrong actions (See The Information Quality Act – OMB Section 515).

Getting Personal about Information Quality Management
What about your organization? Is it addressing information quality (IQ) issues with a strong, proactive leadership to make IQ management a core competency of its management? If legislation is enacted to force organizations to address IQ, will your organization be ahead of the curve with the competitive advantage an effective IQ-managed environment will bring? Or will your organization be forced to play catch up to those who have established themselves as leaders in the IQ revolution?

Will industry address IQ on its own – or will it require a “Clean IQ Act” to make it happen in the private sector? What about your organization? Will it require information quality legislation, or will your organization implement IQ processes voluntarily to increase customer satisfaction and customer lifetime value and increase profit at the same time?

What do you think? Let me hear at Larry.English@infoimpact.com.

  • Larry EnglishLarry English

    Larry, President and Principal of INFORMATION IMPACT International Inc., is one of the most highly respected authorities in the world on how to apply information quality management principles to Total Information Quality Management. He has provided consulting and education in more than 40 countries on six continents. 

    Larry was featured as one of the “21 Voices for the 21st Century” in the American Society for Quality’s Journal Quality Progress in its January 2000 issue. Heartbeat of America, hosted by William Shatner, awarded him the “Keeping America Strong” award in December 2008 honoring his work in helping organizations eliminate the high costs of business process failure that enable them to eliminate the high costs of business process failure caused by poor quality information. Larry was honored by the MIT Information Quality Program for a Decade of Outstanding Contributions to the field of Information Quality Management in July 2009. You may contact him by email at Larry.English@infoimpact.com.


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