Data Validation and Verification

The Department ensures the accuracy and reliability of the performance data in its Annual Performance Plan and Report (combined) and in measuring progress towards its Agency Priority Goals, in accordance with the five data quality specifications in the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 for:

  • Means used to verify and validate measured values: All performance data reported in the Annual Performance Plan & Report and on http://performance.gov/ by the Department is subject to the data verification and validation standards initially published in 2003 and reissued in 2007 (see https://www.doi.gov/performance/data-validation-and-verification).  Implementing organization heads or chief officials confirm in writing the validity of the data.  In the case of Agency Priority (Performance) Goals, senior officials in the implementing organization personally present the data on a quarterly basis to the senior Departmental leadership.
  • Sources for the data: In response to data calls, program managers provide performance data based on their observations that can include extrapolations of selected representative samples or past history adjusted for estimates of changing conditions.  These data are tracked and maintained in separate systems, including spreadsheets,  Following review by the providing bureau or office, data is collected, reviewed, integrated, and maintained by the Department’s Office of Planning and Performance Management in its Annual Performance Plan & Report (APP&R) that is available at the Department’s Budget and Performance Portal (www.doi.gov/bpp), and on the www.performance.gov website.
  • Level of accuracy required for the intended use of the data: Performance data reported in the Annual Performance Plan & Report and on http://www.performance.gov/ is used for management purposes, as a representative indicator of progress in relation to a target or goal established by the corresponding implementing organization.  The accuracy of the data is that which is considered necessary to provide a reasonable representation of the progress made relative to a target or goal for discussion purposes, so as to help:
    • determine if the progress is considered adequate
    • provide understanding of the ability for the processes and methods being implemented to achieve the goal
    • indicate if any further exploration or evaluation is needed to better ensure achievement of the goal; and
    • whether alternative action, including adjusting funding levels, facilities, workforce, IT capabilities, etc., is needed to help better ensure achievement of  the goal.
  • Limitations to the data at the required level of accuracy: Performance data is subject to potential errors from: the use of estimations and extrapolations, especially where direct measurement is impractical and/or considered too costly; individual observation; miscommunication; and/or failure to effectively employ the guidance described in the performance measure template or the “Indicator” description in http://www.performance.gov/. However, based on multiple review levels and accuracy certifications, we do not believe these limitations to be significant.
  • How the agency has compensated for such limitations if needed to reach the required level of accuracy: The measurement procedures for each performance measure used in the Annual Performance Plan and Report is described/documented in data measurement templates posted on the OMB MAX website, or described in the “Indicator” block for each Agency Priority (Performance) Goal on http://www.performance.gov/.   Along with the implementing organization’s official assurance of faithfully employing the data verification and validation standards, submitted data is reviewed within the context of the scope and nature of the activity, plans, and past experience to help confirm accuracy.  Following review and verification by the submitting bureau or office, the data is reviewed within its corresponding trends and programmatic context by the Department’s Office of Planning and Performance Management to determine if further consultation with the data provider is necessary to adjust or correct the reported data before publication.  Senior management and leadership consider this level of accuracy to be acceptable in their use of the data. Past experience in using the data, historical trend and programmatic context assessments, and bureau data quality certifications indicate that the limitations are considered minor and compensating measures are not considered necessary.

In addition to employing the Department’s data validation and verification standards, and internal reviews of submitted data, the best “test” of the data’s accuracy is in its use.  Agency Priority (Performance) Goal data is reviewed during quarterly status reviews where senior officials report their data directly to the Department’s senior leadership and is made publicly available through http://www.performance.gov/. Annual performance plan and report data is provided with historical, organizational, and supporting context to provide the reader with a fuller perspective of the data and is reviewed annually at the “strategic objective” level.