Policy on Institutional Reporting to External Agencies
According to University policy ACAF 7.02, the Office of Institutional Assessment & Compliance (IAC) is responsible for providing external reports for the University of South Carolina:
The Office of Institutional Planning and Assessment [sic] shall be the University's clearinghouse for official reports to external agencies including federal and state governments.
Also according to the definitions presented in ACAF 7.02, IAC is neither a data custodian nor a data steward. As a data user, IAC owns no data and must rely on official University data for reporting. However, information in the official University databases is in constant flux. To ensure consistent, auditable reporting to college guides, state and federal agencies, data consortiums, and vendors whose contracts are based on enrollment figures, University Technology services (UTS) extracts official student data from the database the last weekend in each of the following months: October, March, June, and July. IAC uses these files to fulfill University reporting requirements. Although the data used by IAC for external reporting is no longer in an official database, ACAF 7.02 considers these files to be official:
Copies of official data are NOT official data where they are found on diskettes, individual hard drives, network servers, or as files on other shared systems. These copies or downloads cannot be used as substitutes for official records kept by the authorized data stewards of the University. However, such information may be used to generate official reports on behalf of the University with the knowledge and permission of the data stewards.
While IAC will manipulate the extracted files in terms of merging the files and calculating new fields based on the information in the files, IAC does not and should not change any of the extracted data in these official files. According to ACAF 7.02, assuring and verifying the accuracy of the data is the purview of the data stewards:
The Data Stewards will determine the most reliable sources of data and regularly evaluate the quality of the data entity. They will determine responsibilities for data capture and maintenance to ensure data integrity.
The Data Stewards will monitor the data for accuracy, integrity, and dependability, and where appropriate, will initiate action concerning these issues.
The bottom line is quite simple: IAC cannot alter official University data. Data stewards must ensure the accuracy of their data both for the daily operations of the University, and also for the reporting of institutional data.
Regrettably, errors in official data may be discovered during the IAC data verification process. As the reporting entity for the University, IAC is solely responsible for determining if the errors are severe enough to require correction before releasing reports to external agencies. If the data must be corrected, IAC will request that the data steward make the necessary adjustments to the database. After receiving proof of the corrections from the data steward, IAC will change the data in the extracted file to match the corrected data in the database.