COMMERCE/DEPT-12

System name:

Investigative and Inspection Records--COMMERCE/DEPT-12.

System location:

Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20230.

Categories of individuals covered by the system:

  1. Current and former employees of the Department of Commerce and such other persons whose association with the Department relates to the alleged violations of the Department's rules of conduct, the Civil Service merit system, or any other criminal or civil misconduct, which affects the integrity or facilities of the Department of Commerce. The names of individuals and the files in their names may be:
    1. Received by referral;
    2. initiated at the discretion of the Inspector General in the conduct of assigned duties.
  2. Individuals who are: Witnesses; complainants; confidential or nonconfidential informants; suspects; defendants, parties who have been identified by the Office of the Inspector General or by other agencies, constituent units of the Department of Commerce and members of the general public in connection with the authorized functions of the Inspector General.
  3. Current and former Commerce officials who are the subject of investigations initiated and conducted by the Office of the Inspector General.

Categories of records in the system:

Letters, memoranda, and other documents citing complaints of alleged criminal or administrative misconduct. Investigative files which include: Reports of investigations to resolve allegations of misconduct or violations of law with related exhibits, statements, affidavits or records obtained during investigations; prior criminal or noncriminal records of individuals as they relate to the investigations; reports of actions taken by management personnel regarding misconduct; and reports from or to other law enforcement bodies.

Authority for maintenance of the system:

Inspector General Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 95-462); Executive Orders 12065 and 10450; 44 U.S.C. 3101; 28 U.S.C. 535; 18 U.S.C. including Sections 201, 202, 205, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 219, 285, 287, 508, 595, 600, 602, 603, 604, 607, 608, 641, 643, 653, 654, 798, 1001, 1719, 1905, 1913, 1917, 1918, 2071, 2073; 5 U.S.C. including Sections 301, 2302, 7311, 7324, 7352; 15 U.S.C. 1512; 31 U.S.C. 638(a)(c).

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses:

Routine use for law enforcement purposes will include disclosure to the appropriate agency, whether Federal, State, local, foreign, or international, charged with the responsibility for investigating or prosecuting a violation of any law, rule, regulation or order. Routine use for law enforcement purposes will also include disclosure to individuals or to agencies, whether Federal, State, local, foreign or international, when necessary to further the ends of an investigation. Disclosure of information from this system of records may also be made to commercial contractors (debt collection agencies) for the purpose of collecting delinquent debts as authorized by the Debt Collection Act (31 U.S.C. 3718). See routine use paragraphs 1-5 and 8-13 in Prefatory Statement.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system:

Storage:

Paper records in file folders and automated storage media.

Retrievability:

Indices are alphabetical, cross referenced to file number.

Safeguards:

Locked cabinets in secured rooms or in guarded building, and used only by authorized screened personnel.

Retention and disposal:

When cases are closed records are disposed of in accordance with the unit's Records Control Schedule.

System manager(s) and address:

Counsel to the Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230.

Notification procedure:

Information may be obtained from: Counsel to the Inspector General, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230. Requester should provide name and association with the Department, if any, pursuant to the inquiry provisions of the Department's rules which appear in 15 CFR part 4b.

Record access procedures:

Requests from individuals should be addressed to: Same address of the desired location as stated in the Notification section above.

Contesting record procedures:

The Department's rules for access, for contesting contents, and appealing initial determinations by the individual concerned appear in 15 CFR part 4b. Use above address.

Record source categories:

Subject individuals: Office of Personnel Management, FBI and other Federal, State, local, foreign and international agencies; individuals and organizations that have pertinent knowledge about the subject; and those authorized by the individual to furnish information.

Systems exempted from certain provisions of the act:

Under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2), the head of any agency may exempt any system of records within the agency from certain provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974, if the agency or component that maintains the system performs as its principal function any activities pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws. The Inspector General Act of 1978, Pub. L. 95-462, mandates the Inspector General to recommend policies for, and to conduct, supervise and coordinate activities in the Department and between the Department and other Federal, State and local government agencies with respect to all matters relating to the prevention and detection of fraud in programs and operations administered or financed by the Department, and to the identification and prosecution of participants in such fraud. Under the Act, whenever the Inspector General has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of Federal criminal law, the Inspector General must report the matter expeditiously to the Attorney General. In addition to these principal functions pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws, the Inspector General may receive and investigate complaints on information from various sources concerning the possible existence of activities constituting violations of law, rules or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuses of authority or substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety. The provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974 from which exemptions are claimed under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2) are as follows: 5 U.S.C. 552a(c) (3) and (4); 5 U.S.C. 552a(d); 5 U.S.C. 552a(e) (1), (2) and (3); 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4) (G), (H), and (I); 5 U.S.C. 552a(e) (5) and (8); 5 U.S.C. 552a(f); 5 U.S.C. 552a(g).

To the extent that the exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2) is held to be invalid, then the exemptions under 5 U.S.C. 552a (k)(1), (k)(2), and (k)(5) are claimed for all material which meets the criteria of these three subsections. Provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974 from which exemptions are claimed under 5 U.S.C. 552a (k)(1), (k)(2) and (k)(5) are as follows: 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); 5 U.S.C. 552a(d); 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1); 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4) (G), (H), and (I); 5 U.S.C. 552a(f). Reasons for exemptions: In general, the exemption of this information and material is necessary in order to accomplish the law enforcement function of the Office of Inspector General, to prevent disclosure of classified information as required by Executive Order 12065, to prevent subjects of investigations from frustrating the investigatory process, to prevent the disclosure of investigative techniques, to fulfill commitments made to protect the confidentiality of sources, to maintain access to sources of information, and to avoid endangering these sources and law enforcement personnel. Detailed reasons follow:

  1. Reasons for exemptions under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2) and (k)(2); (1) 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) requires that upon request, an agency must give an individual named in a record an accounting which reflects the disclosure of the record to other persons or agencies. This accounting must state the date, nature and purpose of each disclosure of the record and the name and address of the recipient. The application of this provision would alert subjects of an investigation to the existence of the investigation and that such persons are subjects of that investigation. Since release of such information to subjects of an investigation would provide the subjects with significant information concerning the nature of the investigation, it could result in the alerting or destruction of documentary evidence, improper influencing of witnesses, and other activities that could impede or compromise the investigation.
  2. 5 U.S.C. 552a (c)(4), (d), (e)(4) (G) and (H), (f) and (g) relate to an individual's right to be notified of the existence of records pertaining to such individual; requirements for identifying an individual who requests access to records; the agency procedures relating to access to records and the contest of information contained in such records; and the civil remedies available to the individual in the event of adverse determinations by an agency concerning access to or amendment of information contained in records systems. This system is exempt from the foregoing provisions for the following reasons: To notify an individual at the individual's request of the existence of records in an investigative file pertaining to such individual, or to grant access to an investigative file could interfere with investigative and enforcement proceedings, deprive co-defendants of a right to a fair trial or other impartial adjudication, constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of others, disclose the identity or confidential sources, reveal confidential information supplied by these sources and disclose investigative techniques and procedures.
  3. 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4)(I) requires the publication of the categories of sources of records in each system of records. The application of this provision could disclose investigative techniques and procedures and cause sources to refrain from giving such information because of fear or reprisal, or fear of breach of promises of anonymity and confidentiality. This would compromise the ability to conduct investigations, and to identify, detect, and apprehend violators.
  4. 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(I) requires each agency to maintain in its records only such information about an individual that is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required by statute or Executive Order. An exemption from the foregoing is needed: a. Because it is not possible to detect relevance or necessity of specific information in the early stages of a criminal or other investigation. b. Relevance and necessity are questions of judgment and timing. What appears relevant and necessary when collected may ultimately be determined to be unnecessary. It is only after the information is evaluated that the relevance and necessity of such information can be established. c. In any investigation the Inspector General may obtain information concerning the violations of laws other than those within the scope of his jurisdiction. In the interest of effective law enforcement, the Inspector General should retain this information as it may aid in establishing patterns of criminal activity, and provide leads for those law enforcement agencies charged with enforcing other segments of criminal or civil law. d. In interviewing persons, or obtaining other forms of evidence during an investigation, information may be supplied to the investigator which related to matters incidental to the main purpose of the investigation but which may relate to matters under the investigative jurisdiction of another agency. Such information cannot readily be segregated.
  5. 5 U.S.C. 552(e)(2) requires an agency to collect information to the greatest extent practicable directly from the subject individual when the information may result in adverse determinations about an individual's rights, benefits, and privilege under Federal programs. The application of the provision would impair investigations of illegal acts, violations of the rules of conduct, merit system and any other misconduct of the following reasons: a. In certain instances the subject of an investigation cannot be required to supply information to investigators. In those instances, information relating to a subject's illegal acts, violations of rules of conduct, or any other misconduct, etc., must be obtained from other sources. b. Most information colected about an individual under investigation is obtained from third parties such as witnesses and informers. It is not feasible to rely upon the subject of the investigation as a source for information regarding his activities. c. The subject of an investigation will be alerted to the existence of an investigation if any attempt is made to obtain information from subject. This could afford the individual the opportunity to conceal any criminal activities to avoid apprehension. d. In any investigation, it is necessary to obtain evidence from a variety of sources other than the subject of the investigation in order to verify the evidence necessary for successful litigation.
  6. 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(e)(3) requires that an agency must inform the subject of an investigation who is asked to supply information of: a. The authority under which the information is sought and whether disclosure of the information is mandatory or voluntary, b. The purposes for which the information is intended to be used, c. The routine uses which may be made of the information, and d. The effects on the subject, if any, of not providing the requested information. The reasons for exempting this system of records from the foregoing provision are as follows: (i) The disclosure to the subject of the investigation as stated in (b) above would provide the subject with substantial information relating to the nature of the investigation and could impede or compromise the investigation. (ii) If the subject were informed of the information required by this provision, it could seriously interfere with undercover activities requiring disclosure of undercover agents' identity and impairing their safety, as well as imparing the successful conclusion of the investigation. (iii) Individuals may be contracted during preliminary information- gathering in investigations before any individual is identified as the subject of an investigation. Informing the individual of the matters required by this provision would hinder or adversely affect any present or subsequent investigations.
  7. 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(5) requires that records be maintained with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and completeness as is reasonably necessary to assure fairness to the individual in making any determination about an individual. Since the law defines ``maintain'' to include the collection of information complying with this provision would prevent the collection of any data not shown to be accurate, relevant, timely, and complete at the moment of its collection. In gathering information during the course of an investigation it is not possible to determine this prior to collection of the information. Facts are first gathered and then placed into a logical order which objectively proves or disproves criminal behavior on the part of the suspect. Material which may seem unrelated, irrelevant, incomplete, untimely, etc., may take on added meaning as an investigation progresses. The restrictions in this provision could interfere with the preparation of a complete investigative report.
  8. 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(8) requires an agency to make reasonable efforts to serve notice on an individual when any record of such individual is made available to any persons; under compulsory legal process when such process becomes a matter of public record. The notice requirements of this provision could prematurely reveal an ongoing criminal investigation to the subject of the investigation.

Reasons for exemptions under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(1):

  1. 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) requires that an agency make accountings of disclosures of records available to individuals named in the record at their request. These accountings must state the date, nature and purpose of each disclosure of the record and the name and address of the recipient. The application of this provision would alert subjects of an investigation to the existence of the investigation, and that such persons are subjects of that investigation, information which if known might cause damage to national security.
  2. 5 U.S.C. 552a (d), (e)(4) (G) and (H), and (f) relate to an individual's right to be notified of the existence of records pertaining to such individual; requirements for identifying an individual who requests access to records; and the agency procedures relating to access to records, and the contest of information contained in such records. This system is exempt from the foregoing provisions for the following reasons: To notify an individual at the individual's request of the existence of records in an investigative file pertaining to such individual or to grant access to an investigative file could interfere with investigations undertaken in connection with national security; or could disclose the identity of sources kept secret to protect national security or reveal confidential information supplied by these sources.
  3. 5 U.S.C. 552a(3)(4)(I) requires the publication of the categories of sources of records in each system of records. The application of this provision could disclose the identity of sources kept secret to protect national security.
  4. 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) requires each agency to maintain in its records only such information about an individual that is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required by statute or Executive Order. An exemption from the foregoing is needed : a. Because it is not possible to detect relevance or necessity of specific information in the early stages of an investigation involving national security matters. b. Relevance and necessity are questions of judgment and timing. What appears relevant and necessary when collected may ultimately be determined to be unnecessary. It is only after the information is evaluated that the relevance and necessity of such information can be established. c. In any investigation the Inspector General may obtain information concerning the violators of laws other than those within the scope of his jurisdiction. In the interests of effective law enforcement, the Inspector General should retain this information as it may aid in establishing patterns of criminal activity, and provide leads for those law enforcement agencies charged with enforcing other segments of criminal or civil law. d. In interviewing persons, or obtaining forms of evidence during an investigation, information may be supplied to the investigator which relate to matters incidental to the main purpose of the investigation but which may relate to matters under the investigative jurisdiction of another agency. Such information cannot readily be segregated.

Reasons for exemptions under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(5):

  1. 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) requires that an agency make accountings of disclosures of records available to individuals named in the records at their request. These accountings must stated the date, nature and purpose of each disclosure of the record and the name and address of the recipient. The application of this provision would alert subjects of an investigation to the existence of the investigation and that such persons are subjects of that investigation. Since release of such information to subjects of an investigation would provide the subject with significant information concerning the nature of the investigation, it could result in the altering or destruction of documentary evidence, improper influencing of witnesses, and other activities that could impede or compromise the investigation.
  2. 5 U.S.C. 552a(d), (e)(4)(G) and (H), and (f) relate to an individual's right to be notified of the existence of records pertaining to such individual; requirements for identifying an individual who requests access to records; and the agency procedures relating to access to records and the contest of information contained in such records. This system is exempt from the foregoing provisions for the following reasons: To notify an individual at the individual's request of the existence of records in an investigative file pertaining to such individual or to grant access to an investigative file could interfere with investigative and enforcement proceedings; co-defendants of a right to a fair trial; constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of others; disclose the identity of confidential sources and reveal confidential information supplied by these sources; and disclose investigative techniques and procedures.
  3. 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4)(I) requires the publication of the categories of sources of records in each system of records. The application of this provision could disclose investigative techniques and procedures and cause sources to refrain from giving such information because of fear of reprisal, or fear of breach of promises of anonymity and confidentiality. This would compromise the ability to conduct investigations, and to make fair and objective decisions on questions of suitability for Federal employment and related issues.
  4. 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) requires each agency to maintain in its records only such information about an individual that is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required by statute or Executive Order. An exemption from the foregoing is needed: a. Because it is not possible to detect relevance or necessity of specific information in the early stages of an investigation. b. Relevance and necessity are questions of judgment and timing. What appears relevant and necessary when collected may ultimately be determined to be unnecessary. It is only after that information is evaluated that the relevance and necessity of such information can be established. c. In any investigation the Inspector General may obtain information concerning the violations of laws other than those within the scope of his jurisdiction. In the interest of effective law enforcement, the Inspector General should retain this information as it may aid in establishing patterns of criminal activity, and provide leads for those law enforcement agencies charged with enforcing other segments of criminal or civil law. d. In interviewing persons, or obtaining other forms of evidence during an investigation, information may be supplied to the investigator which relate to matters incidental to the main purpose of the investigation but which may relate to matters under investigative jurisdiction of another agency. Such information cannot readily be segregated.