OMB working on new privacy guide

E-Government Act

The Office of Management and Budget is developing new privacy guidance that will provide agencies with more specifics about when information must be protected.

The new guidance, due out soon, is required under the E-Government Act of 2002 to help agencies comply with the more stringent privacy mandates laid out in the act.

OMB's guidance will build on existing policy and best practices, but it will be more detailed and will help agencies determine exactly when they must conduct privacy impact assessments, said Dan Chenok, branch chief for information policy and technology at OMB.

Agencies must perform an assessment before a procurement or system is designed. If the assessment shows that information is not appropriately safeguarded, then agencies must consider alternative plans. This applies to any information the government holds.

Chenok was speaking April 23 at a forum sponsored by the Council for Excellence in Government and the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C.

The act is very specific about what the guidance must include. It highlights the information that a privacy impact assessment must consider and what a Web site privacy policy should include.

Getting information to the people who need to see it will not be easy, said Franklin Reeder, chairman of the federal Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Board. He suggested that OMB encourage agencies to use organizations that represent a variety of citizen groups whenever possible in addition to posting notices in the Federal Register. Many citizens do not pay attention to those notices, he said. n

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