Information products that are subject to these RRB section 515 information quality guidelines include statistical and actuarial information. The guidelines focus on reports, studies, and summaries prepared for public dissemination to inform the public about the impact of Railroad Retirement programs and to use in formulating broad program policy.
For the purpose of these guidelines, transparency refers to a clear description of the methods, data sources, assumptions, outcomes, and related information that will allow a data user to understand how an information product was designed and produced. Reproducibility of information refers to the ability, in principle, for a qualified individual to use the documentation of methods, assumptions, and data sources to achieve comparable findings. In practice, opportunities for direct reproducibility are often limited by restrictions on access to confidential information.
RRB will make the information it disseminates and the methods used to produce this information as transparent as possible so that they can, in principle, be reproducible by qualified individuals. RRB guidelines call for clear documentation of data and methods used in producing estimates and projections. Their implementation will ensure the transparency and reproducibility of our disseminated information. Some statistical publications are based on publicly available data, and the computer programs that produce the statistics can be made available on request; accordingly, information in those publications is fully reproducible by the public.
Many estimates and projections included in RRB's information products are not directly reproducible by the public because the underlying data sets used to produce them are confidential. Others may not be directly reproducible because of the complexity and detail of the methods and data. In those cases, greater emphasis is placed on periodic review by outside panels of technical experts and on documentation of methods, assumptions, data sources and related information.
Much of RRB's disseminated actuarial, statistical, and analytical information is potentially influential because it has an impact on important public policies or important private-sector decisions relating to the Railroad Retirement program. Information products that are deemed to have a greater impact on public policies are subject to more extensive internal review and, where appropriate, review by external technical panels prior to release.