IRS gets new privacy advocate

IRS Privacy and Security

The Internal Revenue Service hired a former Office of Management and Budget privacy analyst to be the privacy advocate for taxpayers.

Maya Bernstein will oversee the agency's handling of personal information, IRS officials said today. She replaces Peggy Irving as head of the office in charge of agency policies for protecting taxpayers' personal information — an increasingly important job as data is handled by more electronic systems in the agency's modernization, officials said.

The privacy advocate also educates taxpayers and IRS employees about the agency's privacy policies for citizens and agency employees.

Bernstein was OMB's analyst for privacy issues in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 1990 through 1999. She has worked in the private sector for the past few years as a consultant on information policy and administrative law and as an attorney at the Washington, D.C., offices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson.

Experts have held up IRS privacy policies as models to emulate. The federal Chief Information Officers Council adopted the tax agency's privacy impact assessment methodology governmentwide as a best practice.

Privacy impact assessments determine how a new system or function will handle personally identifiable information and analyze its impact on the data's owners. The E-Government Act of 2002 requires those assessments for new information systems at federal agencies.

Bernstein earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from American University's Washington College of Law.

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