OMB putting privacy help in place

New information system privacy requirements of the E-Government Act of 2002 have spurred the Office of Management and Budget to revive the federal CIO Council's privacy committee, said Dan Chenok, branch chief for information technology and policy at OMB.

Eva Kleederman, the privacy policy analyst within the IT and policy branch, is leading the effort to develop the new committee, which will be made up of privacy experts from around government, Chenok said. He was speaking April 23 at a forum sponsored by the Council for Excellence in Government and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Additionally, OMB is working to fulfill a requirement of the E-Gov Act that will produce a "guide for practitioners," Chenok said. He added that the new guidance will build on existing policies, but OMB also is looking for input on how to best implement the privacy requirements within agencies — many of which do not have privacy officers.

E-Gov Act's requirements are the first major changes to privacy regulations since the Privacy Act of 1974. They include calling for agencies to conduct a privacy impact assessment for every new system or information collection activity. Forum attendees expressed concern that agencies do not have much experience in performing such assessments.

One of the agencies that will be looking for the most help from new OMB guidance is the Homeland Security Department, which is the first to have a privacy officer mandated by law.

Nuala O'Connor Kelly, who started in that position April 21, said she will be working to ensure that her position "embeds privacy awareness into the structure and the culture of the organization," and that the OMB's new guidance will be essential to the department and to her job.

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