Petition for Correction under the ONDCP Information Quality Guidelines

This page tracks the following successful Petition for Correction under the ONDCP Information Quality Guidelines

March 12, 2010 (by email)

Office of National Drug Control Policy
Executive Office of the President
Washington, D.C. 20503

To: ONDCP Chief of Staff

This is a Petition for Correction under the ONDCP Information Quality Guidelines.

The specific information under this petition was publicly disseminated through the following document on the ONDCP website:

Specifically, it states on Page 5: “A Department of Transportation study released in December showed that 16 percent of nighttime weekend drivers were under the influence of a licit or illicit drug.(5)”

The footnote is:
“(5) 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers: Drug Results, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, December 2009. Accessible at

The NHTSA study referenced clearly states:

“The reader is cautioned that drug presence does not necessarily imply impairment. For many drug types, drug presence can be detected long after any impairment that might affect driving has passed. For example, traces of marijuana can be detected in blood samples several weeks after chronic users stop ingestion. Also, whereas the impairment effects for various concentration levels of alcohol is well understood, little evidence is available to link concentrations of other drug types to driver performance.” (Page 3, boxed for extra visibility)

“Caution should be exercised in assuming that drug presence implies driver impairment. Drug tests do not necessarily indicate current impairment. Drug presence can be measured for a period of days or weeks after ingestion in many cases. This latency of drug presence may partially explain the consistency between daytime and nighttime drug findings.” (Page 3)

Clearly, the study does not provide the necessary information to determine that drivers were “under the influence” as is claimed in the ONDCP document.

The integrity of the data from the NHTSA has not been maintained by the ONDCP as is required by the Quality Guidelines.

The ONDCP statement is clearly an official document (containing the seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States) and publicly disseminated (on ONDCP’s public website, and as evidenced by public reference to the document in the Christian Science Monitor: ).

This is a substantial issue, as the dissemination of this corrupted data may significantly affect future national and state policy regarding drugged driving (perhaps even international policy), particularly now as the Director of the ONDCP has been using this integrity-challenged description of the data in venues as far away as Vienna, Austria.


NY Daily News:

Washington Post:

I, Pete Guither, am affected by the lack of integrity in this information in two ways.

  1. As an American citizen, future laws and policies based on this information could directly affect my loved ones or me.
  2. As a drug policy activist, who engages in discussions on various topics of drug policy at Drug, it is important that I be allowed to participate in a national discussion regarding policy, without it being sidetracked by publicly disseminated information from the Office of the President that is a misstatement of scientific data.

Corrective action sought: I ask that this document be amended to show that the study referenced does not support the finding of “under the influence.” Additionally, as the Director of the ONDCP has often indicated that drug policy should be based on scientific fact, I ask that the staff of the ONDCP be made aware of the limitations of the NHTSA study so they don’t improperly advise the Director to continue to disseminate information that lacks integrity.

Thank you for your attention to this Petition for Correction under the ONDCP Information Quality Guidelines.


Pete Guither

March 16 (by email)

Dear Mr. Guither,

Thank you for contacting ONDCP.

Your e-mail has been forwarded to ONDCP staff. You may be hearing
from someone shortly regarding this matter.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Content Specialist
ONDCP Clearinghouse

Received April 20 (by postal mail)

Washington, DC

April 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Guither

This letter is in response to the petition for correction that you emailed to the Office of the National Drug Control Policy on March 16, 2010. The sentence on the ONDCP website regarding the Department of Transportation study has been reworded to state “that 16 percent of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for a licit or illicit drug.” This should fully address the specific point raised in your correspondence.

Pursuant to Section III of ONDCP’s information Quality Guidelines, you have a right to request reconsideration if you believe appropriate corrective action has not been taken. Such a request must be filed within 30 days of notification of ONDCP’s response to your original request.


Timothy J. Quinn
Chief of Staff

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