DHS seeks Privacy Act exemption for new database

The Homeland Security Department wants exemption from most Privacy Act requirements for a new database that will keep personal information on its employees, visiting contractors, job applicants and student interns, among others.

The Office of Security File System will include classified and unclassified information, according to a recent
notice posted in the Federal Register.

Its purpose is to assist the Office of Security in managing security risks and vulnerabilities to the agency, its personnel, communications and facilities. Public comments on the proposal are due by Oct. 12.

DHS is asking for the Privacy Act exemptions because the new system will contain sensitive information related to national security and law enforcement, and disclosing information may jeopardize investigations, according to the notice.

The records will cover not only DHS employees, but also contractors, consultants, volunteers, student interns, visitors, private, state and local officials authorized to access sensitive departmental systems. It also will cover people who raise security concerns during unsolicited contact with the agency, the notice said.

"The personal information to be collected will consist of data elements necessary to identify the individual and to perform background or other investigations concerning the individual," the notice said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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