Privacy Act Exceptions

This section describes the exceptions to the "no disclosure to third parties without consent rule."

1. NEED TO KNOW

This is an agency disclosure to agency employees who need to use the records when performing their duties. There must be a basis established that there is a need for employees to have a "need to know" and to have access to the records. For example, a timekeeper will "need to know" the information on a leave slip to be able to record the presence and absence of employees.

2. DISCLOSURE REQUIRED BY THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

If information must be released under FOIA, it must also be released under the Privacy Act. Discretionary FOIA releases may not be made without an individual's consent, unless there is another exemption, such as "routine use." Information that is protected under the Privacy Act is generally protected under FOIA. FOIA cannot be used to deny an individual information about him/herself.

3. ROUTINE USE

Disclosure is authorized pursuant to routine use published in the Federal Register, compatible with the purpose for which it is collected. Agencies may always disclose records indicating a possible violation of law to law enforcement agencies for investigation/prosecution, regardless of the purpose for collection. Agencies cannot include responses to subpoenas as routine use, since there is an exception for court orders which has been interpreted to exclude subpoenas.

4. DISCLOSURE TO CENSUS

Information may be disclosed to the Census Bureau in individually identifiable for use by the Census Bureau pursuant to Title 13, which prohibits disclosure by Census.

5. DISCLOSURE TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS PROVIDED ADEQUATE WRITTEN ASSURANCE THAT THE RECORD WILL BE USED SOLELY FOR STATISTICAL RESEARCH

The request must state the purpose for requesting the record and certify that they will be used only as a statistical record. The record must be transmitted in a form that is not individually identifiable. This means that the identity of the individual cannot be reasonable determine by anyone from tabulations or other presentations of the information (i.e., the identity of the individual cannot be derived by combining various statistical records or by reference to public records or other available sources of information.) A statistical record is one which is not used in making individual determinations.

6. DISCLOSURE TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION

Records can be disclosed if the record has sufficient historical or other value to warrant its continued preservation by the Government, or for evaluation by the Archivist to make that determination. Records which are transferred to the Federal Records Center for safekeeping do not fall within this category-they are not disclosures under the Privacy Act.

7. DISCLOSURE TO ANOTHER AGENCY FOR CIVIL OR CRIMINAL LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITY

Records may be disclosed to another agency or to an instrumentality of any governmental jurisdiction within or under the control f the United State Government for a civil or criminal law enforcement activity if the activity is authorized by law and if the head of the agency or instrumentality has made a written request to the agency which maintains the record specifying the particular portion desired and the specific law enforcement activity. This includes disclosure to another agency or unit of State or local governments. Disclosure to foreign agencies must be established as a routine use, if appropriate.

Blanket requests for all records pertaining to an individual are not permitted. Disclosure may be at the initiation of the agency maintaining the record when a violation of law is suspected, provided that such disclosure is an established routine use. The authority to request the records may be delegated by the head of the agency, but never below a section chief. U.S. Attorneys and, in some cases, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, have been delegated this authority.

8. DISCLOSURE UNDER EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES

Disclosure may be made pursuant to a showing of compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of any individual if upon such disclosure, notification is transmitted to the last known address of the individual. This provision permits disclosure when, for example, the time required to obtain the consent of the individual to whom the record pertains might result in a delay which could impair the health or safety of any individual, as in the release of medical records to a person undergoing emergency medical treatment. The individual to whom the records pertain need not be the individual whose health or safety is in peril.

9. DISCLOSURE TO EITHER HOUSE OF CONGRESS

Records may be disclosed to either house of Congress or, to the extent of matter within its jurisdiction, any committee or subcommittee, any joint committee of Congress, or subcommittee of any such joint committee. This does not authorize disclosure to members of Congress acting in their individual capacities, without the consent of the individual.

10. DISCLOSURE TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE

Records may be disclosed to the General Accounting Office, to the Comptroller General, or any of his/her authorized representatives, in the course of the performance of duties of the GAO.

11. DISCLOSURE MANDATED BY COURT ORDER OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION

A subpoena does NOT qualify under this exemption unless it is specifically approved by a JUDGE. The order must be signed by a judge. The Office of Inspector General of another agency is not a court under this section-neither is an Administrative Law Judge deemed to be a judge, nor the Merit Systems Protection Board deemed to be a court.