The Privacy Act of 1974: An Assessment. APPENDIX 4 TO The Report of The Privacy Protection Study Commission.. United States Postal Service (USPS)


The United States Postal Service has treated the Privacy Act as a records management tool and has given overall responsibility for imple-menting it to the USPS Records Officer who is also responsible for the Service's implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and other records management functions. The Records Officer, within each region is responsible for oversight of Privacy Act compliance within his area and is, in turn, functionally responsible to the USPS Records Officer.

Continuing direction and guidance to lower echelon and field units is provided through bi-weekly Postal Bulletins dispatched from USPS headq-uarters. Additionally, instructional memoranda are dispatched on an irregular basis to specific components of the Service (e.g., employee and labor relations offices, regional USPS counsels, and Inspection Service field offices), giving guidance on particular subjects. To aid the headquarters and regional offices, circulars and instructions are routinely disseminated concerning USPS forms and development of new systems.

Much like DOD, the USPS has its own law enforcement arm, the Postal Inspection Service (PIS). Stated broadly, the mission of the PIS includes the protection of the United States mail, the enforcement of postal laws, plant and personnel security, postal inspection, and internal audits. To assure compliance with postal regulations, the PIS conducts operating inspections and audits for the Postal Service. At the present time, an audit program is being planned for all USPS records systems which will include Privacy Act procedures as a major element. Inspectors will inquire into the manner and degree to which the operating location is complying with the Act. Physical security of records systems will also be included as a part of the audit, as will review of disclosure accounting logs maintained at those levels. The PIS, in cooperation with the USPS Records Officer, investigates alleged violations of the Act.

Although USPS includes a standard clause in its contracts which obligates a contractor subject to subsection 3(m) to comply with the Act's requirements as an agent of the Federal government, there is currently no attempt to monitor contractor compliance.