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Proposed Rule

National Reconnaissance Office Privacy Act Program

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National Reconnaissance Office, DOD.


Proposed rule.


The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is proposing to exempt one Privacy Act systems of records. The system of records is QNRO-23, Counterintelligence Issue Files. The exemptions are intended to increase the value of the systems of records for law enforcement purposes, to comply with prohibitions against the disclosure of certain kinds of information, and to protect the privacy of individuals identified in the systems of records.


Comments must be received by March 9, 2001 to be considered by the agency.


National Reconnaissance Office, Information Access and Release Center, 14675 Lee Road, Chantilly, VA 20151-1715.

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Ms. Barbara Freimann at (703) 808-5029.

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Executive Order 12866

It has been determined that this Privacy Act rule for the Department of Defense does not constitute “significant regulatory action”. Analysis of the rule indicates that it does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; does not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; does not materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; does not raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

It has been determined that this Privacy Act rule for the Department of Defense does not have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it is concerned only with the administration of Privacy Act systems of records within the Department of Defense.

Paperwork Reduction Act

It has been determined that this Privacy Act rule for the Department of Defense imposes no information requirements beyond the Department of Defense and that the information collected within the Department of Defense is necessary and consistent with 5 U.S.C. 552a, known as the Privacy Act, and 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35.

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List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 326

  • Privacy
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1. The authority citation for 32 CFR part 326 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: Pub. L. 93-579, 88 Stat 1896 (5 U.S.C. 552a).

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2. Section 326.17 is proposed to be amended by adding paragraphs (e) as follows:

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(e) QNRO-23

(1) System name: Counterintelligence Issue Files.

(2) Exemptions: (i) Investigatory material compiled for law enforcement purposes may be exempt pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2). However, if an individual is denied any right, privilege, or benefit for which he would otherwise be entitled by Federal law or for which he would otherwise be eligible, as a result of the maintenance of such information, the individual will be provided access to such information except to the extent that disclosure would reveal the identity of a confidential source.

(ii) Investigatory material compiled solely for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for federal civilian employment, military service, federal contracts, or access to classified information may be exempt pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(5), but only to the extent that such material would reveal the identity of a confidential source.

(iii) Therefore, portions of this system of records may be exempt pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2) and/or (k)(5) from the following subsections of 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (H) and (I), and (f).

(3) Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2) and (k)(5).

(4) Reasons: (i) From subsection (c)(3) because to grant access to the accounting for each disclosure as required by the Privacy Act, including the date, nature, and purpose of each disclosure and the identity of the recipient, could alert the subject to the existence of the investigation or prosecutable interest by NRO or other agencies. This could seriously compromise case preparation by prematurely revealing its existence and nature; compromise or interfere with witnesses or make witnesses reluctant to cooperate; and lead to suppression, alteration, or destruction of evidence. Start Printed Page 1281

(ii) From subsections (d)(1) through (d)(4), and (f) because providing access to records of a civil or administrative investigation and the right to contest the contents of those records and force changes to be made to the information contained therein would seriously interfere with and thwart the orderly and unbiased conduct of the investigation and impede case preparation. Providing access rights normally afforded under the Privacy Act would provide the subject with valuable information that would allow interference with or compromise of witnesses or render witnesses reluctant to cooperate; lead to suppression, alteration, or destruction of evidence; enable individuals to conceal their wrongdoing or mislead the course of the investigation; and result in the secreting of or other disposition of assets that would make them difficult or impossible to reach in order to satisfy any Government claim growing out of the investigation or proceeding.

(iii) From subsection (e)(1) because it is not always possible to detect the relevance or necessity of each piece of information in the early stages of an investigation. In some cases, it is only after the information is evaluated in light of other evidence that its relevance and necessity will be clear.

(iv) From subsections (e)(4)(G) and (H) because this system of records is compiled for law enforcement purposes and is exempt from the access provisions of subsections (d) and (f).

(v) From subsection (e)(4)(I) because to the extent that this provision is construed to require more detailed disclosure than the broad, generic information currently published in the system notice, an exemption from this provision is necessary to protect the confidentiality of sources of information and to protect privacy and physical safety of witnesses and informants. NRO will, nevertheless, continue to publish such a notice in broad generic terms as is its current practice.

(vi) Consistent with the legislative purpose of the Privacy Act of 1974, the NRO will grant access to nonexempt material in the records being maintained. Disclosure will be governed by NRO's Privacy Regulation, but will be limited to the extent that the identity of confidential sources will not be compromised; subjects of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal violation will not be alerted to the investigation; the physical safety of witnesses, informants and law enforcement personnel will not be endangered, the privacy of third parties will not be violated; and that the disclosure would not otherwise impede effective law enforcement. Whenever possible, information of the above nature will be deleted from the requested documents and the balance made available. The controlling principle behind this limited access is to allow disclosures except those indicated above. The decisions to release information from these systems will be made on a case-by-case basis.

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Dated: December 21, 2000.

Patricia L. Toppings,

Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.

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[FR Doc. 01-416 Filed 1-5-01; 8:45 am]