The Privacy Act

General Provisions 

The Privacy Act is a federal statute, 5 U.S.C. § 552a et seq. (PDF), which establishes various controls over what personal information is collected by the federal government, how it is used and how it must be protected. The Privacy Act requires OGE to:

  1. Inform individuals at the time it is collecting information about them, why this information is needed, and how it will be used;
  2. Assure that personal information is used only for the reasons given, or seek the person’s permission when another purpose is needed or desired;
  3. Allow the individual to see records kept on them, and provide individuals with the opportunity to correct inaccuracies in their records.

The Privacy Act sets standards which OGE must meet as it collects, maintains and uses information. For example, any Government form that requests personal information must contain a Privacy Act Statement. The Privacy Act Statement provides the legal authority and purpose for requesting the information; a brief discussion on how the information will be used; and whether you can say “I don’t want to provide the information” and what happens if you do refuse. There are Privacy Act Statements at the bottom of your Request for Leave Form (SF 71), on the OGE 201, OGE 278 and OGE 450 Forms.

Records Covered by the Privacy Act 

The Privacy Act does not apply to all records maintained by the federal government. It applies to records that contain personal information on individuals that are retrieved by the person’s name, social security number or some other personal identifier, such as a certificate of divestiture number. These records are usually referred to as a Privacy Act system of records.

It is also important to note that the Privacy Act does not apply to records maintained by the legislative and judicial branches, state and local governments or private organizations.

OGE has published in the Federal Register a description of its record systems that are covered by the Privacy Act. In addition, the Office of Personnel Management and other Federal agencies have also published notices of records systems such as official personnel folders, discrimination complaint records, and other personnel-related records.

OGE has two Government-wide systems for financial disclosure records:

  1. Public Financial Disclosure Reports and other Name Retrieved Ethics Records: Includes SF/OGE 278 forms and related public financial disclosure review process documents.  See:  http://www.ofr.gov/Privacy/AGENCIES.aspx 
  2. Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports: Includes OGE form 450, OGE Optional Form 450-A, and agency supplemental or alternative confidential report forms.  See:  http://www.ofr.gov/Privacy/AGENCIES.aspx