OMB, DHS working on privacy

The Office of Management and Budget is working with closely with the Homeland Security Department (DHS) to that ensure privacy concerns are adequately addressed as new information systems and sharing mechanisms are developed.

OMB met with officials in January to help develop a blanket privacy policy, said Eva Kleederman, privacy policy analyst with OMB. She was speaking March 12 at a meeting of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board in Bethesda, Md.

OMB also is starting discussions on what DHS and its partner agencies must do to comply with the Privacy Act of 1974 during and after the department's formation, she said.

Many privacy concerns are centered on such new systems as the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening II program at the Transportation Security Administration and the entry/exit system at the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

OMB also is working with agencies that are connected with DHS but not part of it. "That is still very much an ongoing process," Kleederman said.

Many agencies that are no longer part of the same department must still share information, she said. For example, when TSA was part of the Transportation Department, it was not difficult to share information with the Federal Aviation Administration. However, now that TSA is part of DHS, sharing information with the FAA is problematic.

Board members expressed concern that while OMB and the agencies know what privacy work is being done, little communication exists to explain to the public what protections are in place.

The Bush administration should take steps to clarify this and counter the perception that DHS does not fall under the Privacy Act, said John Sabo, business manager of security, privacy and trust initiatives at Computer Associates International Inc.

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