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Department of Labor
White House Each of the above agencies received a letter from the subcommittee, which varied slightly from agency to agency, but which asked the following general questions:
agency; or (3) on persons who have not yet dealt with it. The Subcommittee would appreciate a statement from you on:
(A) The extent of such a data-collection, processing and storage program, if any, conducted by your agency;
(B) Any agency plans for automating, filming, or computerizing such files, or creating a data bank in any form; and
(C) Whether or not any part, or all, of another agency's file system or data bank has been incorporated in those of your agency.
Questionnaire (1) For each data bank maintained under your auspices, describe briefly the major categories of data on individuals and the approximate number of subject individuals covered in each category.
(2) Under what statutory and administrative authority was each data bank established and for what purpose? Please supply copies of pertinent federal statutes, regulations and memoranda on which this authority is based and by which it is implemented.
(3) Do other federal agencies or any state, local, or private agencies utilize such programs or data banks? If so, are agency controls, guidelines, or advice required by or offered to (a) federal, (b) state officials, and (c) private individuals who either administer or who utilize this data-gathering or data-storage program? Please supply copies of pertinent rules or advisory documents as issued by federal and state agencies.
(4) For each category and each conglomerate of data, indicate its present state of computerization or other mechanization for access and retrieval as well as for evaluation and analysis.
(5) Describe plans for further computerization or mechanization in each program.
(6) In what instances would each system ordinarily be utilized? By what officials and by what agencies?
(7) For each new data storage and processing program, please describe: (a) the advantages; and (b) the extent to which it permits correlating, common storage and multifaceted analysis of data on a scale not hitherto available.
(8) What specific data elements concerning an individual (including but not limited to his background, personal life, personality and habits) are in each program?
(9) Has your agency and its component agencies developed comprehensive guidelines governing maintenance of any or all the various data systems, access to them, review and disclosure of material in them, and distribution of data to other agencies? If so, please supply copies.
(10) (A) Is the subject individual or his representative notified of the fact that he is in the data bank?
(B) Is he allowed to review the data on record about
(12) Is a record maintained of each inspection or use of
(13) For each data bank, please indicate how the information is collected, whether it is solicited from the individual, from third persons, or from existing records.
(14) What officials in your agency are responsible for determining the accuracy of information in the data bank? What provisions are made, procedurally, for deleting information found to be inaccurate or inappropriate, either on the initiative of the agency or on motion of the individual?
(15) What other agencies, federal or otherwise, have access to information or use of information in each data bank on a regular or one-time basis? Under what authority?
(16) What states and federal agencies may utilize, transfer or access the data in your computerized or mechanized files by coding, interfacing, or other arrangements with their own systems?
(17) What security devices and procedures are utilized to prevent: (a) improper use of the information and (b) unauthorized access to the data file?
(18) What formal or informal arrangement does your agency have with congressional committees for the authorizing and reviewing of new data banks and the clearance of new electronic or mechanized record-management techniques?
(19) (A) Have any data programs or the development of other comprehensive records systems been discussed before other congressional committees by representatives from your agency?
(B) Have any been specifically approved by Congress
(C) If so, would you please supply any available testi-
together with sample print-outs from each data bank. By the spring of 1974 all 54 agencies had responded. These responses are reprinted at length in the thousands of pages which constitute the bulk of this report. The next section of this introduction contains a brief "Summary of Findings” derived from those responses.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
The 858 data banks analyzed in this survey constitute a representative sample of the countless files and dossiers on individuals kept by the various agencies of the executive branch of the Federal Government. These 858 data banks are by no means all of the Government files on individuals. Rather, they are the systems which the 54 agencies polled by the subcommittee were willing to admit they maintain. There are without a doubt a great many more Federal data banks which the subcommittee, despite more than four years of patient effort, was unable to uncover.
There are a number of indications that the agencies' responses consistently understate the scope of their personal data banks. To begin with, a surprising number of the agencies displayed a remarkable lack of understanding of what a "data bank containing personal information about individuals” is. The responses from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Justice, as well as the Office of Management and Budget, stated that data banks containing such information as an individual's social security number, salary, race, sex, history of drug addiction and the like do not contain "personal" information. The number of data banks not reported on this basis is impossible to calculate.
Some of the agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Commerce, responded only with regard to their computerized data banks and omitted the manual files altogether. A few agencies inexplicably omitted some of their more routine data banks. For example, the Department of Agriculture reported a number of data banks containing information about the general public, but omitted altogether the personnel and payroll records the Department is required to keep.
Moreover, a number of the more sensitive “intelligence” systems such as the Internal Revenue Service's Special Service Staff files and the FBI's Investigative files were not included in the initial agency responses at all. Having learned of such systems from other sources, the subcommittee was able to extract sufficient information to include them in the survey. There are almost certainly a number of other unreported systems of which the subcommittee is unaware.
In some cases, agencies such as the Department of the Interior and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board simply refused to report anything about their data banks containing personal information about individuals. The Department of the Interior is a particularly bad example. On at least two occasions the subcommittee chairman requested that the Department of the Interior respond to the survey questionnaire. Each time the Department of the Interior refused to disclose any of the requested information about the data banks containing personal information about individuals which the Department doubtlessly maintains. A bare reference to the payroll and personnel records, which the Department is required to keep, is the maximum