Education systems unite on privacy

Education Department's Privacy Act notice

Creating an umbrella privacy statement was a six-month effort for human resources development specialists in the Education Department's Office of Management. But the time spent will let office officials avoid writing a new privacy statement each time they create a new system of records, according to officials who drafted the privacy notice.

Any information system containing information that identifies individual employees or citizens is a system of records, and every system of records must be covered by a privacy statement, said Ruth Derr, a human resource development specialist.

Rather than write a privacy act statement for employee training and development for each department system, Derr's group consulted department lawyers and privacy officers before creating an umbrella policy "to cover what we currently have and programs that might be coming down the pike," she said.

Now, at least 17 separate systems are covered under the new umbrella privacy statement. The systems are known collectively as the Human Capital Learning and Performance Improvement System.

"We have a mentoring program we started up, we knew we were going to be revitalizing some intern programs, and we didn't want to go through this process each and every time," Derr said. "We tried to work smarter."

A notice about the umbrella privacy statement first appeared in the April 12 issue of the Federal Register.

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