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Data Quality Around the World.

Just about everyone has a stake in data quality. From individuals who receive incorrect invoices to major corporations whose officers must sign off on financial statements, everyone in the Information Age depends on data. Learn more by following the links for Professional Organizations | Data Quality College | Data Laboratories | Data Quality in the News.

Professional Organizations.

The International Association for Information and Data Quality (IAIDQ), founded in January 2004, is the premiere professional organization for data and information quality management professionals. The IAIDQ offers information and data quality practitioners resources for solving the perplexing problems of nonquality information in their organizations.

Larry English and Tom Redman are co-founders of the IAIDQ.

Data Quality College.

Navesink Consulting Group is pleased to present the Data Quality College, a collection of seminars focused on improving the quality of data.  Classes are conducted on the client's site, with examples taken from the experiences and frustrations of the employees who deal with data problems daily.

The goal of Data Quality College is to help participants learn how to improve the quality of data created and used by their organizations and, most importantly, to improve their businesses as a result. 

Group exercises build teamwork and develop skills which, when brought into the workplace,  are translated into real improvement.

To learn more , visit the web site at http://www.dataqualitycollege.com

The last several years have witnessed an exciting growth in the utilization of the Internet. Companies, large and small, are using the Internet in a variety of ways and an exciting new concept—electronic commerce—has emerged. And consumers, large and small, are using the Internet to search for information, to locate goods and services, and to find the best deals. 

But can consumers trust the data and information they find? 

And how can those who publish data and information on the Internet know if these data and information meet consumer needs?

To learn more, visit the website at http://www.datalaboratories.com.

Data Quality in the News.

The impact of data errors is felt by everyone at one time or another.  Most times poor data quality results in lost time, lost money, lost consumer confidence, embarrassment and the like.  Some times, however, data errors cost lives.

The  items listed below made it into the news for the same reason: poor quality data.  While few, if any, of the reports specifically point a finger at erred data, poor data quality is often at the heart of the problem.  Simply stated, the right (and correct) data was not in the right place at the right time to do what needed to be done.

What's your data quality disaster?  Everybody has one! Tell us yours!

"Levees Were Poorly Built, Army Engineers Say," The New York Times, June 1, 2006, by The Associated Press. In a report prepared by the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, the hurricane protection system in New Orleans failed because it was "inadequate and incomplete, noting it had been bullt disjointedly over several decades using outdated elevation data."

"Merck Admits a Data Error on Vioxx," New York Times, May 31, 2006, by Alex Berenson. Merck reported yesterday that it had made a data error in the statistical test that showed Vioxx caused heart attacks only after 18 months of continuous use.

"Thieves Steal Personal Data of 26.5M Vets," New York Times, May 23, 2006, by The Associated Press. The VA reported the theft of the data, including social security numbers and birth dates, from an employee who had improperly taken the information home.

"One Dead Man, 2 Sets of Prints and an Identity-Theft Arrest," New York Times, May 12, 2006 by Kareem Fahim. Police arrested a man who had been using the stolen identify of a dead man since 1988. According article, the man assumed the stolen identity in order to enjoy the benefits of US citizenship.

"A One-House, $400 Million Bubble Goes Pop," New York Times, February 15, 2006 by Gretchen Ruethling. A house valued at $121,900 skyrocketed to $400 million after someone "most likely hit a wrong key and changed the figure in the county's computer system." The article goes on, "The error probably happened when someone tried to check the value of a house in a county computer program that showed real estate values, but then accidentally gained access to a different program without authorization, said James Murphy, the county treasurer. The inflated value ...was used to calculate tax rates and led the county to expect $8 million in property taxes that did not exist."

"What, You Got a Problem Paying $102.13 for 2 Tomatoes?" The New York Times, January 28, 2006, by Barbara Whitaker. According to Ms. Whitaker, "Surveys indicate that consumers lose $1 bllion to $2.5 billion each year becuase of scanner pricing errors."

"Costly Error by Japanese Firm," The New York Times, December 9, 2005 by Reuters. "Admitting to what could be Japan's biggest trading error ever, the brokerage unit of Mizuho Financial Group Inc. said after the close of trading on Thursday that a worker had entered what was intended as an order to sell one share of J-Com, an employment services company based in Osaka, at 610,000 yen. Instead, the order went out to sell 610,000 shares - valued at $3.1 billion at J-Com's initial offering price - for one yen each... The error has so far caused a loss of some 27 billion yen ($224 million)."

"PC Containing Consumer Data Stolen," Information Week, November 9, 2005 by Tony Kontzer. "TransUnion LLC, one of three companies that maintain consumer credit histories, provided the latest scare Wednesday, revealing that a password-protected PC containing personal credit information on more than 3,600 consumers was stolen from a regional sales office in California last month.

"Clerical Error 'Misplaced' Rail Car," Cincinnati Enquirer, September 30, 2005 by Sharon Coolidge "An improper keystroke into a computer is how a rail car that leaked the dangerous chemical styrene into the air last month ended up in Linwood, according to documents the railroad gave lawyers representing neighborhood residents and businesses. Why the error was not caught and corrected remains unexplained."

"Among Voters in New Jersey, GOP Sees Dead People," The New York Times, September 16, 2005 by David W. Chen." Comparing information from county voter registration lists, Social Security death records and other pubic information, Republican officials announced on Thursday (9/15/05) that 4,755 people who were listed as deceased appear to have voted in the 2004 general election. Another 4,397 people who were registered to vote in more than one county appeared to have voted twice, while 6,572 who were registered in New Jersey and in one of five other states selected for analysis voted in each state," according to Mr. Chen's article.

"Express to Cut Ties to Processor Involved in Data Breach," The New York Times, July 20, 2005 by Eric Dash. According to Mr. Dash's article, American Express has joined Visa in ending "its relationship with CardSystems Solutions, the small payment processor at the center of perhaps the credit card industry's biggest data breach."

"The Scramble to Protect Personal Data," The New York Times, June 9, 2005 by Tom Zeller, Jr. According to Mr. Zeller's article, Citigroup has again incurred the loss of magnetic tapes with customer names, addresses, account numbers and balances. In the first occurrence, a tape with information about 120,000 Japanese customers was lost enroute to a data management center in Sinapore. In this recent loss, a box of tapes with personal information on almost 4 million American customers was lost while in the hands of United Parcel Service. Mr. Zeller goes on to describe the growing problem of protecting customer data.

"Kennedy-Bound Jet is Diverted to Canada After a False Hijacking Signal," The New York Times, June 4, 2005 A Virgin Atlantic Airways jet enroute to JFK from London was diverted to Canada for four hours after it sent a false signal that it was been hijacked. Air traffic controllers were assured by the pilot that all was well, but the plane was ordered to change course and was escorted by two Canadian fighter jets to Halifax. The plane was finally released and arrived at JFK approximately 4-1/2 hours late.

"LexisNexis Data on 310,000 People Feared Stolen" Reuters, April 12, 2005-Reuters. "Data broker LexisNexis said Tuesay (4/12/05) that personal information may have been stolen on 310,000 US citizens, or nearly 10 times the number found in a data breach announced last month. An investigation by the firm determined that its databases had been fraududently breached 59 times using stolen passwords, leading to the possible theft of personal information such as addresses and social security numbers. LexisNexis, which said in March that 32,000 people had been potentially affected by the breaches, will notify an additional 278,000 individuals whose data may have been stolen."

"Security Breach at LexisNexis Now Appears Larger," The New York Times, April 13, 2005 by Heather Timmons, "Reed Elsevier, owner of LexisNexis databases, said Tuesay (4/12/05) Sociat Security numbers, driver's license infformation and the addresses of 310,000 people may have been stolen, 10 times more than it originally reported last month."

"FBI Chief Admits $170m Computer Failure," The Guardian, March 10 , 2005, by Julian Borger in Washington. "More than three years after the September 11 attacks, and $170m later, the FBI has abandoned an attempt to upgrade its computer database, hampering America's ability to track suspected terrorists."

"Another Data Broker Reports a Breach." The New York Times, March 10 , 2005, by Tom Zeller, Jr. The FBI is investigating the possible use of unauthorized use of passwords of legitimate subscribers to the databases of The LexisNexis Group. The information of about 30,000 people, including names, addresses and Social Security numbers may have fallen into the hands of thieves. This is the latest in a series of consumer data breaches (see below).

"Burned by ChoicePoint Breach, Potential ID Theft Victims Face a Lifetime of Vigilance." Information Week, February 24, 2005, by Rachel Konrad, AP Technology Writer. Ms Konrad explores the consequences of the breach of computer databases of ChoicePoint, Inc. She writes, "More than 9.9 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year. Many victims are dumbfounded by the dearth of federal and state laws aimed at protecting their credit histories and other information about them." Go to Information Week to read the full article.

"After Catalog Blunder, Eziba.com Suspends Business," The New York Times, January 24, 2005, by Bob Tedeschi. Eziba "had sent out tens of thousands of catalogs in late September and early October and waited for the phones to ring. After a couple of "grim, quiet" days, company executves checked with the business that mailed the catalogs on Eziba's behalf. They hoped to find that the mailing had simply been delayed, but instead discovered that the catalogs had been sent to the wrong addresses. Because of a computer error, the catalogs had reached the members of Eziba's mailing list who showed the lowest likelihood to respond to the catalog. The revenue shortfall created by that event put the company in such a tenuous financial position that it was forced to halt operations temporarily on Jan. 14 while it sough cash to pay off creditors " Eziba is working to get to profitability and then build on that foundation.

"Missteps Cited in Kerik Vetting by White House," The New York Times, December 15, 2004, by Elisabeth Bumiller. A major problem, according to this article, "was that the White House did not have the benefit of any F.B.I investigation into Mr. Kerik's past."

"Grading Mistakes Caused More Than 4,000 Would-Be Teachers to Fail a Licensing Exam," The New York Times, July 13, 2004, by Karen W. Arenson.  "Mistakes in the scoring of an examination that 18 states use in licensing teachers caused more than 4,000 people who should have passed it to fail instead, the Education Testing Service said yesterday.  The errors may have prevented many from getting full-time jobs as teachers in the last year."  E.T.S. will reimburse the $115 test fee at a cost of close to half a million dollars.

"Billions to Save," Information Week, July 12, 2004, by Eric Chabrow and Laurie Sullivan. The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standard and Technology recently released a report which stated that the lack of widely accepted and implemented supply-chain standards costs the automotive and electronics industries a combined $9 billion a year.  That figure represents 1.25% of the total value of shipments in each industry.

"Report Says Key Assertions Leading to War Were Wrong," The New York Times, July 9. 2004, by Douglas Jehl.  The Senate Intelligence Committee found "that the most pivotal assessments used to justify the war against Iraq were unfounded and unreasonable, and reflected major missteps on the part of American intelligence agencies."

"Oops, I did it again," The Economist, June 17, 2004.  Statistics South Africa, the government agency that reports official economic data, admitted last June that it had greatly overstated inflation for several months.  The result: interest rates stayed too high for too long.  Now officials admit another error: they misjudged the size of the economy, because official surveys of business activity are out of date, causing the reports for the services sector to go underreported.  As a result, some foreign investors may have been deterred by the low reported rates.

"C.I.A. Was Given Data On Hijacker Long Before 9/11,'' New York Times, February 24, 2004, by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. The name and phone number of one of the 9/11 hijackers, Marwan al-Shehhi, was given to the CIA by German intelligence officials in March of 1999.  American intelligence officials are uncertain whether the phone was ever monitored.  The individual was a crucial member of the Qaeda cell in Hamburg at the heart of the September 11 plot.  The independent commission charged with the investigation of the attacks is actively investigating this issue.

"Fixing Hospital Billings Errors," CBS MarketWatch.com January 16, 2004, by Kristen Gerencher.  "As many as nine out of 10 hospital bills are in some way inaccurate, and many patients miss mistakes in not knowing how to decode charges and ask the right questions... In Consumer Reports' January issue, five percent of 11,000 readers said they found major errors upon reviewing their itemized hospital bills.  Those with at least $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses were twice as likely to have found inaccuracies.

"CRM Upgrade giving AT&T Wireless Headaches,'' Information Week, December 24, 2003.  "As AT&T began to upgrade to its CRM platform, some customers spent hours on the phone trying to get through to operators.  Once they reached an operator, the wait to actually activate the services stretched for days."  "An AT&T Wireless spokesman describes the CRM problem as "isolated" and largely resolved... However, there are still problems with the upgrade and the company still hasn't said when it will work as designed."

"A Forecast of Failure." According to a senior research analyst at a Gartner Group Symposium, by 2005, more than 50% of data warehouse and CRM projects will fail, with one of the points of business failure including denial about data quality issues." Customer Data Management, © 2003 DataFlux Corporation.

"I about had a heart attack.'' -- Boone County Clerk Lisa Garofolo. The county's E-voting system had reported that 144,000 votes had been cast in a recent election. Not even 19,000 residents were registered to vote. From "Quote of the Day," Information Week Online, December 24, 2003.

"Chief of Sept. 11 Panel Assess Blame But Holds Off on Higher-Ups," New York Times, December 19, 2003 "The chairman of the federal commission investigating the September 11 terror attacks said that information long available to the public showed that the attacks could have been prevented had a group of low- and middle-level government employees at the FBI, Immigration Services and elsewhere had been their jobs properly."  He went on to say, "There were FBI people who, when they got reports from Phoenix and Minnesota and elsewhere, didn't think they were important enough to buck up to the higher-ups."

"New Jersey Couple Held in Abuse; One Son, 19, Weighed 45 Pounds," New York Times, October 27, 2003. Four boys (ages 9-19 years) were removed from the foster care system and hospitalized and their parents arrested after police found the boys had been starved to the point that none of them weighed more than 50 pounds.   According to the article, a caseworker from New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services had visited the house 38 times in 2 years but failed to discover the abuse, despite the horrible condition of the boys' health - they were not only starving, they had lice and their teeth were rotting.  They had not visited a doctor or dentist in over 5 years.  The article quotes Kevin M. Ryan, the independent child advocate named by Governor McGreevey, "The question that has to be penetrated is, how did 38 visits over 2 years not rescue these children from slow torture and starvation?" He added, "I am completely baffled at this point at how a failure of this magnitude could happen." 

"383,000 Missing Votes in California Recall," October 10, 2003, by Rachel Konrad, AP (AOL NEWS).  "More than 380,000 ballots cast in the recall election did not have a valid vote on whether to recall Gov. Gray Davis, and most of them were made on punch card systems, according to two independent studies."

"What Inspectors Saw, and Didn't See," New York Times, October 3, 2003. Questions regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq remain unanswered.  According to the New York Times, "In his statement yesterday to the Congressional intelligence committees, David Kay, of the Iraq Survey Group, said his inspectors "have not yet found stocks of weapons" using chemical or biological agents, or evidence of "steps to actually build nuclear weapons." But he said it was too early to conclude there were no weapons of mass destruction, or to say that they had existed before the war but had disappeared."

"Sprint May Be Barred From Pacts With U.S.," New York Times, August 6, 2003, (AP). According to the article, GSA officials have been advised to consider  blocking Sprint from receiving further federal contracts because it overcharged the Justice Department more than $2 million."  Sprint's government contracts are worth more than $600 million each year.  In addition, the company has already agreed to pay a fine of $5.5 million to settle accusations of overbilling.  (It's interesting to note that systems that overbill will often underbill as well - for more, read Billing Pain.)

"Inquiry on Futures Trading Error," New York Times, July 4, 2003, (Reuters). The Chicago Board of Trade is investigating a huge error in its mini-Dow Jones futures contract.  A large futures commission house entered an order to sell 10,000 contracts of mini-Dow futures instead of 100.  The mini-Dow futures contract plummeted when hit by the sell order and quickly dragged down the Dow Jones industrial average about 50 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 futures and cash indexes were hit as well.  Floor traders at the exchange said the ability of the huge error to slide though, unchecked, showed a potential dark side of electronic trading.

"Woman Dies After Police Mistakenly Raid Her Apartment," New York Times, May 17, 2003, by William K. Rashbaum. Alberta Spruill, a 57 year-old city government worker, died of a heart attack after police broke down her door and threw a concussion grenade into her apartment.  Police, acting on bad information from an informant, believed there were guns and drugs in the apartment.

"New Jersey Shows Failures of Child Welfare System," New York Times, April 15, 2003, by Richard Lezin Jones and Leslie Kaufman.  New Jersey Child Welfare System's confidential files were made public on April 14th, providing a detailed account of the deaths and abuse of over a dozen children.  While some blame rests with individual failures of case workers and supervisors, poor data quality is also to blame.  The article states, 'One worker, after realizing that records involving sexually abusive foster parents had been incorrectly entered into the agency's computer system, known as SIS, wrote: "Have those corrections made, do your own, or do nothing. I've accepted that most of what we put on SIS is wrong, and I'll get over it."'

"US: Patriot Involved in Downed Jet," Miami Herald, April 14, 2003 by Nicole Winfield (AP).  A Patriot missile shot down a Hornet jet fighter on April 2, killing the pilot.  This is believed to be the third incident in which a Patriot missile has been the cause of friendly fire deaths in the Iraq war.

"A Nation at War: Battlefield Errors," New York Times, April 8, 2003.  At least a dozen allied deaths may have been caused by errors or inadvertent attacks by allied troops.  

"The Biggest Mistake of Their Lives," New York Times, March 16, 2003, by Susan Burton   Each year an estimated 1,500 surgical patients have foreign objects (sponges, etc.) left in them during surgery, leaving many to face crippling health problems. However, there is no mandatory system for reporting these errors, leaving the actual number of medical errors in question. It is often only through malpractice lawsuits that these errors become public knowledge.

The article goes on to report that five percent of doctors are found responsible for over 50% of successful malpractice suits.  One caution -- most malpractice cases don't make it to court.  Only one in 6 victims even file and about half of those abandon the effort before trial.

"(Big) Red Faces at Cornell Over E-Mail Error,"  New York Times, February 28, 2003, by Karen W. Arenson.  On February 26, Cornell University emailed 1,700 early-decision applicants to announce their acceptance into the class of 2007.  Unfortunately, 550 of the recipients received the letter in error ­ they had already received  rejection notices December.  The university sent letters of apology to the affected students within a few hours, but that was too late to stem the emotional stress and confusion of those who wrongly believed they had been accepted into their first-choice school  The error was attributed to a "systems coding error."  Susan H. Wilmer, director of college counseling at the Brooks School in North Andover, MA, was quoted in the article: "I know mistakes can happen, but this kind is devastating to the student and family.  The apologies of the university don't quite cover the disappointment of my senior."

"Hospital Apologizes for Surgical Mistake," New York Times, January 19, 2003, by The Associated Press.  Linda McDougal, 46, underwent a double mastectomy after being advised by her surgeon that she had an aggressive form of cancer  Two days after the surgery she was informed that the lab at United Hospital  in St. Paul, MN, had switched her lab results with another patient and that Ms. McDougal in fact had never had cancer. Ms. McDougal has been fighting several infections and will undergo reconstructive surgery before she decides whether to sue for malpractice. 

"Joint Service for Exit Polls Shuts Down,"  New York Times, January 14, 2003, by Jim Rutenberg with Felicity Barringer.  It was announced yesterday that Voter News Service (VNS) was officially out of business.  VNS was the vote analysis center that was blamed for leading the major TV networks to err in calling the state of Florida in the 2000 Presidential election.  The organization was owned by NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel and AP.  Its subscribers included the New York Times.  After the 2000 election, the service spent between $8 million and $12 million to overhaul its systems, but could not complete work before last November's elections.  

"Survey: 40 percent of public experienced medical errors," Asbury Park Press, December 15, 2002, by Robert Davis (USA TODAY).  A new survey which appears in last week's New England Journal of Medicine, reports that more than 1/3 of practicing physicians and 40 percent of the public have experienced a medical error in the care that they or a family member received as patients.  One of the findings of the survey is that "physicians disagree with national experts on the effectiveness of many of the proposed solutions to the problem of medical errors."

"Errors in Online Stock Quotes,"  New York Times, December 1, 2002, by Jennifer Bayot.  An error attributed to the New York Stock Exchange resulted in several hugely inaccurate stock quotes being picked up and posted at a small number of news and investment organizations Friday evening. Examples include General Electric, which closed at $27.10 but was quoted at $919. Eli Lilly was listed as climbing $800; it actually fell 70 cents. While many errors were corrected by early Saturday morning, some remained into the evening. 

"Holes in System Hid Links in Sniper Attacks," New York Times, November 29, 2002, by David M. Halbfinger and Jayson Blair.  According to the authors, "In the month before the sniper attacks that left 10 dead and terrorized in the Washington area, John Muhammad and Lee Malvo are believed to have killed or wounded seven people in four states.  But because they kept on the move and the police gave only routine attention to what seemed like run-of-the-mill crimes, investigators say, Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo were able to slip through the cracks, gaps and blind spots where jurisdictions meet and crime-fighting databases end."

"Company to Pay Up to $7 Million for Errors in Student Test Results," New York Times, November 25, 2002, Associated Press. NCS Pearson, the testing company that wrongly scored thousands of examinations required for high school graduation in Minnesota in 2000, settled with affected students.  The costs may reach $12 million due to legal fees and cost of notifying students who may be eligible to receive payment.

"9/11 Report Says Saudi Arabia Links Went Unexamined," New York Times, November 23, 2002, by David Johnston and James Risen  The tension between the joint inquiry staff and the F.B.I. and C.I.A. is the latest to evolve from the inquiry into lapses by intelligence and law enforcement agencies related to the Sept. 11 attacks. In a series of interim reports released during committee hearings in recent months, the joint panel has repeatedly criticized the performance of the two agencies.

"Erroneous Order for Big Sales Briefly Stirs Up the Big Board," New York Times, October 3, 2002 by Floyd Norris.  On October 2, 2002, Bear, Stearns placed an order to sell $4 billion in stocks -- but the order was intended to be for only $4 million.  While the orders were cancelled within minutes, $622 million in stock had been sold in error.  The cost to Bear, Stearns -- the difference between the price of the stock when wrongly sold and the cost to buy it back. 

"Primary Day in Florida Goes On, and On, and On," New York Times, September 14, 2002 by Adam Nagourney;  "Again, Sunshine State Is In the Dark a Day After the Vote," The New York Times, September 12, 2002, by Dana Canedy.  The primary election results for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida were held up for three days while Miami-Dade election officials tried to sort out problems at polling locations -- despite the new $32 million voting system which replaced the one blamed in the 2000 Presidential Election.

"Hyundai Reports Errors in Horsepower," USA Today, September 10, 2002 by James R. Healey. Hyundai Motor America admitted that it reported incorrect horsepower ratings for 1.3 million vehicles sold in the US since 1992.  The error ranged from an overstatement of 4.3% to 9.6%  The error occurred when engines were retuned to meet US pollution requirements, but South Korean engineers did not notify the US marketing department of  resulting power losses. (Poor information chain management.) Owners of the 400,000 cars most affected by the error have been offered extended warranties  The cost to Hyundai for the warranty extensions was not stated in the article.

"Wall Bursts and Water Pours in, Trapping 9 Miners 240 Feet Down,"  New York Times, July 26, 2002 by Francis X. Clines.   Though Pennsylvania state regulations require a 200 foot safety wall between adjoining mines, outdated maps of area mines failed to show the miners' proximity to an existing mine.  Thankfully after 77 difficult hours, all nine men were freed.

"Oops, Wrong Patient: Journal Takes on Medical Mistakes," The New York Times, June 18, 2002 by Denise Grady. The June 4 Annals of Internal Medicine describes medical errors in the hope of preventing further mistakes.  Not surprisingly, poor data quality is to blame in many cases.

"Tyco, Worldcom, Xerox - who's next? The US economy is hit again and again with poor quality financial reporting (and questionable practices).  When and how will public confidence in American business be restored?  What can be done - click here to find out.

"Mail from INS stuns flight school," USA Today, March 13, 2002.  By Kevin Johnson. (A result of mismanaged documents, a Florida flight school received notice from the Immigration and Naturalization Service of approval of student visas for two of the September 11th terrorists - six months to the day after the attack on America.)

"Government Declares Man Very Much Alive, Dead," Associated Press, February 19, 2002. Ramon Cruz, 81, had not even been hospitalized when Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in Islip, NY forwarded the incorrect information that he had died to government agencies.  Apparently, a hospital worker called up the wrong "Ramon Cruz" in the database.  Cruz's monthly Social Security checks were halted, his bank accounts emptied and Medicare benefits terminated.  A spokesman said all Cruz's lost money will be returned, adding that it can take a couple of months.

"The collapse of Enron has been chronicled on newscasts and in newspapers on a daily basis for months.  For an in-depth explanation of the role poor data quality played in the Enron case, click here.

"W Hotel's Room-Rate Mistake Benefits Some New York Guests," The Wall Street Journal On Line, January 3, 2002.  By Jane Costello. (Poor data quality impacted the profits of a hotel chain when the room rate was misquoted on their web site.)

"The Wrong Foot, And Other Tales of Surgical Error," The New York Times, December 11, 2001.  By Lawrence K. Altman, MD.  At least 150 times since 1996, surgeons in hospitals in this country have operated on the wrong arm, leg, eye, kidney or other body part, or even on the wrong patient.  The figure does not include near misses -- when doctors started to operate on the wrong site or patient, because no on collects such information.

"Right Answer, Wrong Score: Test Flaws Take Toll," The New York Times, May 20, 2001.  By Diana B. Henriques and Jacques Steinberg. (Incorrect scoring of standardized tests result in summer school and lost opportunities for a troubling number of students.)

"F.B.I. Director Details Blunder on McVeigh Records," The New York Times, May 17, 2001.  By David Johnston. The FBI  disclosed that it committed a "serious error" when it failed to turn over thousands of pages of records from the Timothy McVeigh investigation to defense lawyers. It was initially feared that the error might endanger the government's case against the suspect in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. (High quality record keeping is crucial in law enforcement.)

"C.I.A. Fires Officer Blamed in Bombing of Chinese Embassy," The New York Times, April 9, 2000, p. A1.  (Using out-dated information, the CIA selected the address of an armory for a bombing target.  At the time of the bombing, however, the building housed the Chinese Embassy.  Result: tragic loss of life and property.)

The 2000 Presidential Election in the United States held our attention for weeks as we tried to determine:

E-Commerce Report: "On the Web, Pricing Errors Can Be Costly in More Ways Than One," The New York Times, December 17, 1999.  (Consumers scoop up underpriced items on Amazon.com.)

"Group Asking U.S. for New Vigiliance in Patient Safety," The New York Times, November 30, 1999, National Desk.  (The health industry has been rocked with the news that poor quality kills up to 98,000 people annually.  Fortunately, not all these deaths are due to poor data, but many are.  Poor prescriptions are a good example..)

Gretchen Morgenson -- Market Watch, "Oh, Those Pesky Little Financial Details," The New York Times, January 31, 1999.  (Poor quality data led to corporate embarrassment and drops in stock prices as many companies were forced to restate corporate earnings.)

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