Minimizing Disclosure Risk in HHS Open Data Initiatives. C. Agency Regulations and Guidelines

09/29/2014

Federal regulations governing individual agencies sometimes include specific provisions regarding the collection and use of personal data. Prominent examples include Title 13 (The Census Act), Title 26 (The Internal Revenue Code), and a section of Title 20 that applies to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and is notable for how it assigns legal liability for disclosure. Some agencies, like the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), have documented their internal rules in manuals, two of which are discussed here. To provide agency-wide guidance, the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology (FCSM) developed a “Checklist on Disclosure Potential of Proposed Data Releases,” which was intended primarily for public use data products. Recently, the Statistical and Science Policy Office in OMB issued a proposed statistical policy directive that reaffirms the importance of protecting the confidentiality of the information that statistical agencies collect from the public. All of these regulations and guidelines are discussed below.

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