Rep. Davis takes aim at privacy officer requirement

Rep. Tom Davis took the first step toward making good on his promise to repeal the provision requiring every agency to name a chief privacy officer.

The Virginia Republican earlier this week introduced a one-sentence bill that would remove Section 522 of the Transportation, Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2005.

Congress referred the bill, HR 1271, to the House Government Reform Committee, which Davis chairs, meaning the legislation will make it through committee quickly and onto the House floor for a vote.

“I strenuously oppose Section 522 of the [act] requiring that each federal agency have a privacy officer to carry out duties relating to the privacy and protection of personally identifiable information,” Davis said last year during the debate on the appropriations bill. “These federal information security functions are an intrinsic part of existing federal information policy. They are the responsibility of the agency CIO. Therefore, privacy officers are unnecessary.”

Davis was so bothered by the requirement that he introduced two bills in late December even before President Bush signed the appropriations legislation into law. One bill would repeal the provision; another would water it down so the privacy officer would assist the CIO [See GCN story].

The Office of Management and Budget is determining whether the provision applies governmentwide or just to the specific agencies in the Transportation and Treasury act.

In other legislative news, the committee also recently passed the Program Assessment and Results Act, sponsored by Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.).

The bill, HR 185, would require OMB to assess the performance of every federal program at least once every five years. The PAR Act mirrors what OMB is doing with its Program Assessment Ratings Tool (PART).

A similar bill passed the committee last year but was not considered by the House.

“Program assessments under this legislation are intended to be evidence-based, open to public scrutiny and, because of statutory underpinnings, subject to congressional review,” Platts said. “This legislation does not seek to codify the use of the PART. This type of evidence-based program assessment reflects a decade-long governmentwide effort to move agencies to reporting results.”

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