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Rule

Implementation of Privacy Act of 1974; Revision to the Privacy Act Regulations

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) is revising Start Printed Page 233its regulations implementing the Privacy Act (PA). In accordance with the principles of the National Performance Review, EPA is streamlining and condensing its regulations by removing superfluous language and using simpler language whenever possible. In addition, these regulations contain exemptions for existing systems and add new exempted system of records.

DATES:

This rule is effective January 4, 2006.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Judy E. Hutt, Privacy Act Officer, Records, FOIA and Privacy Branch, Collection Strategies Division, Office of Information Collection, Office of Environmental Information (OEI), EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW. (2822T), Washington, DC 20460. Phone, (202) 566-1668; Fax, (202) 566-1639.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. General Information

On September 14, 2004, the EPA published a proposed rule that revised 40 CFR part 16, and added two exempted system of records notices. Interested persons were afforded an opportunity to participate in the rule making through submission of written comments on the proposed rule. The Agency received no public comments. The Agency is adding an appendix to the exempted system of records notice for the Criminal Investigative Index and Files.

A. How Can I Get Copies Of This Document and Other Related Information?

1. EPA has established an official public docket for this action under Docket ID No. OEI-2002-0009. The official public docket consists of the documents specifically referenced in this action, any public comments received, and other information related to this action. Although a part of the official docket, the public docket does not include Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. The official public docket is the collection of materials that is available for public viewing at the Office of Environmental Information (OEI) Docket in the EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OEI Docket is (202) 566-1752

2. Electronic Access. You may access this Federal Register document electronically through the EPA Internet under the “Federal Register” listings at http://www.epa.gov/​fedrgstr/​.

An electronic version of the public docket is available through EPA's electronic public docket and comment system, EPA Dockets. You may use EPA Dockets at http://www.epa.gov/​edocket/​ to submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the official public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “search,” then key in the appropriate docket identification number.

For additional information about EPA's electronic public docket visit EPA Dockets online or see 67 FR 38102, May 31, 2002.

II. Description of Final Rules

EPA has revised its Privacy Act rules. All exemptions for existing systems have been revised to meet statutory requirements and several new exempt systems are added under these rules. Other revisions are generally minor and include: (1) Making the language gender neutral; (2) removing language inconsistencies; (3) a statement of EPA's right to determine the adequacy of identification; (4) allowing the Office of Inspector General to make appeal determinations related to its Privacy Act systems of records and the Office of General Counsel for all other appeals; and (5) changing the process for submitting Privacy Act requests to the Agency.

III. Statutory Authority

EPA proposed this rule under the authority of 5 U.S.C. 301, 552a (as amended), and 553.

IV. Administrative Requirements

A. Regulatory Flexibility Act, as Amended

The Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act or any other statute unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Small entities include small businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions.

For purposes of assessing the impacts of today's rule on small entities, small entity is defined as: (1) A small business as that term is defined in the Small Business Administration's regulations at 13 CFR 121.201; (2) a small governmental jurisdiction that is a government of a city, county, town, school district or special district with a population of less than 50,000; and (3) a small organization that is any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.

EPA has determined that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on the small entities. Under the PA, no fees shall be charged for providing the first copy of a record or any portion to an individual to whom the record pertains. The fee schedule for reproducing other records is the same as that set forth in 40 CFR 21.06. Therefore, under 5 U.S.C. 605(b), I certify that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

B. Paperwork Reduction Act

This final rule does not impose any reporting or record keeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. It pertains solely to the dissemination of information under the PA.

C. Environmental Impact

This final rule is expected to have no environmental impact. It pertains solely to the dissemination of information under the PA.

D. Executive Order 12866

Under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735) (October 4, 1993), EPA must determine whether this final rule is “significant” and therefore subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and the requirements of the Executive order. The Order defines “significant regulatory action” as one that is likely to result in a rule that may:

(1) have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities;

(2) create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;

(3) materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or

(4) raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive order. Start Printed Page 234

The Agency has determined that this final rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under the terms of Executive Order 12866 and therefore not subject to OMB review.

E. Executive Orders 13132 on Federalism

Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255) (August 10, 1999), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.” “Policies that have federalism implications” is defined in the Executive order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.”

This final rule does not have federalism implications. It will not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

F. Executive Order 13175 on Consultation With Indian Tribal Governments

Executive Order 13175, entitled, “A Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249) (November 6, 2000), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “ meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications.” “Policies that have tribal implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal government and the Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian tribes.”

This final rule does not have tribal implications. It will not have substantial direct effects on tribal governments, on the relationship between the Federal government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian tribes, as specified in Executive Order 13175.

G. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

Under Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA), Public Law 104-4, EPA must prepare a budgetary impact statement to accompany any general notice of final rulemaking or final rule that includes a federal mandate which may result in estimated costs to State, local, or tribal governments in the aggregate, or to the private sector, of $100 million or more. Under Section 205, for any rule subject to Section 202, EPA generally must select the least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule and is consistent with statutory requirements. Under Section 203, before establishing any regulatory requirements that may significantly or uniquely affect small governments, EPA must take steps to inform and advise small governments of the requirements and enable them to provide input.

EPA has determined that this final rule does not include a Federal mandate as defined in UMRA. This final rule does not include a Federal mandate that may result in estimated annual costs to State, local or tribal governments in the aggregate, or to the private sector, of $100 million or more, and does not establish regulatory requirements that may significantly or uniquely affect small governments.

H. Executive Order 13045

Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885) (April 23, 1997), applies to any rule that (1) is determined to be “economically significant” as defined under Executive Order 12866, and (2) concerns an environmental health or safety risk that EPA has reason to believe may have a disproportionate effect on children. If the regulatory action meets both criteria, EPA must evaluate the environmental health or safety effects of the planned rule on children, and explain why the planned rule is preferable to other potentially effective and reasonably feasible alternatives considered by EPA.

This final rule is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it is neither economically significant regulatory action as defined under Executive Order 12866 nor does it concern an environmental health or safety risk that EPA has reason to believe may have a disproportionate effect of children.

I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995

Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), Public Law 104-113, Section 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272 note), directs EPA to use voluntary consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless to do so would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., materials specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. The NTTAA directs EPA to provide Congress, through OMB, explanations when EPA decides not to use available and applicable voluntary consensus standards.

This final rule does not involve any technical standards, and EPA is not considering the use of any voluntary consensus standards. Accordingly, this final rule is not subject to the requirements of the NTTAA.

J. Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects)

This rule is not a “significant energy action” as defined in Executive Order 13211, “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355) (May 22, 2001) because it is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. EPA has concluded that this rule is not likely to have any adverse energy effects.

K. Congressional Review Act

The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2). This rule will be effective January 4, 2006.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 16

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Dated: December 21, 2005.

Kimberly T. Nelson,

Assistant Administrator and Chief Information Officer.

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For the reasons set out above, EPA has revised

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PART 16—IMPLEMENTATION OF PRIVACY ACT OF 1974

16.1
Purpose and scope.
16.2
Definitions.
16.3
Procedures for accessing, correcting, or amending personal records.
16.4
Times, places, and requirements for identification of individuals making requests.
16.5
Request for correction or amendment of record.
16.6
Initial decision on request for access to, or correction or amendment of, records.
16.7
The appeal process.
16.8
Special procedures: Medical Records.
16.9
Fees.
16.10
Penalties.
16.11
General exemptions.
16.12
Specific exemptions.
Start Authority

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301, 552a (as revised).

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Purpose and scope.

(a) This part implements the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a) (PA or Act) by establishing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) policies and procedures that permit individuals to obtain access to and request amendment or correction of information about themselves that is maintained in Agency systems of records. This part also establishes policies and procedures for administrative appeals of requests for access to, or correction or amendment of, records. This part does not expand or restrict any rights granted under the PA.

(b) These procedures apply only to requests by individuals seeking their own records and only to records maintained by EPA. These procedures do not apply to those systems specifically exempt under §§ 16.11 and 16.12 herein or to any government-wide systems maintained by other Federal agencies.

(c) Privacy Act requests made by individuals for records about themselves and which are processed under this Part, will also be treated as FOIA requests and processed as appropriate under 40 CFR Part 2 to ensure full disclosure.

Definitions.

As used in this part:

(a) The terms individual, maintain, record, and system of records have the same meanings as specified in 5 U.S.C. 552a.

(b) EPA means the Environmental Protection Agency.

(c) Working days means calendar days excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays.

Procedures for accessing, correcting, or amending personal records.

(a) Any individual who—

(1) Wishes to be informed whether a system of records maintained by EPA contains any record pertaining to him or her,

(2) Seeks access to an EPA record about him or her that is maintained in an EPA PA system of records, including an accounting of any disclosures of that record; or

(3) Seeks to amend or correct a record about him or her that is maintained in a system of records, may submit a written request to the EPA Privacy Act Officer, Environmental Protection Agency, Headquarters Freedom of Information Office, Office of Environmental Information (MC-2822T), 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460 or via the Agency's Privacy Act Web site at http://www.epa.gov/​privacy or by fax, (202) 566-1639.

(b) All requests for access to, or the correction or amendment of personal records should cite the Privacy Act of 1974 and reference the type of request being made (i.e., access, correction or amendment). Requests must include:

(1) The name and signature of the individual making the request;

(2) The name of the PA system of records (as set forth in EPA's Federal Register PA systems of records notices) to which the request relates; and

(3) A statement whether a personal inspection of the records or a copy of them by mail is desired.

(c) A statement declaring his or her identity and stipulating that he or she understands it is a misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $5,000 to knowingly and willfully seek or obtain access to records about another individual under false pretenses.

(d) A requester who cannot determine which PA system of records to request may ask for assistance by writing to the Headquarters Freedom of Information Office, Attention: Privacy Act Officer, Environmental Protection Agency, (MC-2822T), 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460 or via e-mail to http://www.epa.gov/​privacy or by fax, (202) 566-1639.

Times, places, and requirements for identification of individuals making requests.

(a) If an individual requesting access under § 16.3 asks for personal inspection of records, and if EPA grants the request, the individual may appear at the time and place specified in EPA's response or arrange another time with the appropriate Agency official.

(b) Before conducting a personal inspection of his or her records, an individual must present sufficient identification (e.g., driver's license, employee identification card, social security card, or credit card) to establish that he or she is the subject of the records. EPA reserves the right to determine the adequacy of the identification. An individual who is unable to provide such identification described under paragraph (b) of this section will complete and sign, in the presence of an agency official, a statement declaring his or her identity and stipulating that he or she understands it is a misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $5,000 to knowingly and willfully seek or obtain access to records about another individual under false pretenses.

(c) An individual may have another person accompany him or her during inspection of the records, and the system manager may require the requesting individual to sign a statement authorizing disclosure of the record in the presence of that other person.

(d) An individual may request a copy of the requested record.

(e) No verification of identity will be required where the records sought have been determined to be publicly available under the Freedom of Information Act.

Request for correction or amendment of record.

An individual may request correction or amendment of any record pertaining to him or her in a system of records maintained by EPA by submitting a request in writing to the Freedom of Information Office, or via the Agency's Privacy Act Web site at http://www.epa.gov/​privacy or by fax, (202) 566-1639. The following information must be provided:

(a) The name and signature of the individual making the request;

(b) The name of the system of records;

(c) A description of the information sought to be corrected or amended and the specific reasons for the correction or amendment; and

(d) Sufficient documentation of identity as described under § 16.4(b). (An individual who is unable to provide the identification under § 16.4(b) or is submitting a request on line, must provide a statement declaring his or her identity and stipulating that he or she understands it is a misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $5,000 to knowingly and willfully seek or obtain access to records about another individual under false pretenses).

Start Printed Page 236
Initial decision on request for access to, or correction or amendment of, records.

(a) Within 10 working days of receipt of a request, the Agency Privacy Act Officer will send a letter to the requester acknowledging receipt of the request and promptly forward it to the manager of the system of records where the requested record is located with instructions to:

(1) Make a determination whether to permit access to the record, or to make the requested correction or amendment;

(2) Inform the requester of that determination and, if the determination is to deny access to the record, or to not correct or amend it, the reason for that decision and the procedures for appeal.

(b) If the system manager is unable to decide whether to grant a request of access to, or amendment or correction of a record within 20 working days of the Agency's receipt of the request, he or she will inform the requester reasons for the delay, and an estimate of when a decision will be made.

(c) In reviewing a request for the correction or amendment of a record, the system manager will be guided by the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) and (e)(5).

(d) A system manager who decides to grant all or any portion of a request to correct or amend a record will inform any person or entity outside EPA that was provided the record of the correction or amendment, and, where there is an accounting of that disclosure, make a note of the action taken in the accounting.

(e) If a request pursuant to § 16.3 for access to a record is in a system of records which is exempted, the records system manager or designee will decide whether any information will nonetheless be made available. If the decision is to deny access, the reason for denial and the appeal procedure will be given to the requester.

(f) A person whose request for access is initially denied may appeal that denial to EPA's Privacy Act Officer. EPA's General Counsel will decide the appeal within 30 working days. If an appeal concerns a system of records maintained by the Office of Inspector General, the Privacy Act Officer will forward the appeal to the Counsel to the Inspector General who will decide on the appeal in accordance with § 16.7. The Counsel to the Inspector General will carry out all responsibilities with respect to the appeal that are otherwise assigned to EPA's General Counsel under § 16.7.

(g) If the appeal under § 16.7(e)(6) is denied, the requester will be notified of the right to seek judicial review in accordance with subsection (g) of the Privacy Act.

The appeal process.

(a) An individual whose request for access to, or correction or amendment of a record is initially denied and who wishes to appeal that denial may do so by sending a letter to EPA's Privacy Act Officer within 30 days of the receipt of the initial denial. The appeal must identify and restate the initial request. If an appeal concerns an adverse decision by the Office of Inspector General, the Privacy Act Officer will forward it to the Counsel to the Inspector General, or his or her designee, who will then act on the appeal. The Counsel to the Inspector General, or his or her designee, will carry out all responsibilities with respect to PA appeals that are otherwise assigned to EPA's General Counsel under this section; however, if the Counsel to the Inspector General has signed the initial adverse determination, the General Counsel, or his or her designee, will act on the appeal.

(b) EPA's General Counsel, or his or her designee, will make final decisions on PA appeals within 30 working days from the date on which the appeal is properly received in the Office of General Counsel, unless, for good cause shown, the 30-day period is extended and the requester is notified of the extension in writing. Such extensions will be utilized only in exceptional circumstances.

(c) In conducting PA appeals, the General Counsel, or his or her designee, will be guided by the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) and (e)(5).

(d) If an appeal is granted in whole or in part, the requester will be notified, in writing, and access to the record will be granted, or the correction or amendment of the record will be made. In all such cases, the Privacy Act Officer will ensure that § 16.7(d) is complied with.

(e) If the General Counsel or the Counsel to the Inspector General decides not to grant all or any portion of an appeal, the requester will be informed:

(1) Of the decision and its basis;

(2) Of the requester's right to file a concise statement of reasons for disagreeing with EPA's decision;

(3) Of the procedures for filing such statement of disagreement;

(4) That such statements of disagreements will be made available in subsequent disclosures of the record, together with an agency statement (if deemed appropriate) summarizing its refusal;

(5) That prior recipients of the disputed record will be provided with statements as in paragraph (e)(4) of this section, to the extent that an accounting of disclosures is maintained under 5 U.S.C. 552a(c); and

(6) Of the requester's right to seek judicial review under 5 U.S.C. 552a(g).

Special procedures: Medical Records.

Should EPA receive a request for access to medical records (including psychological records) disclosure of which the system manager decides would be harmful to the individual to whom they relate, EPA may refuse to disclose the records directly to the individual and instead offer to transmit them to a physician designated by the individual.

Fees.

No fees will be charged for providing the first copy of a record or any portion of a record to an individual to whom the record pertains. The fee schedule for reproducing other records is the same as that set forth in 40 CFR 21.07.

Penalties.

The Act provides, in pertinent part: “Any person who knowingly and willfully requests or obtains any record concerning an individual from an agency under false pretenses shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than $5,000.” (5 U.S.C. 552a(i)(3))

General exemptions.

(a) Systems of records affected. EPA-17 OCEFT Criminal Investigative Index and Files.

EPA-40 Inspector General's Operation and Reporting (IGOR) System Investigative Files.

EPA-46 OCEFT/NEIC Master Tracking System.

(b) Authority. Under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2), the head of any Federal agency may by rule exempt any PA system of records within the agency from certain provisions of the Act, if the system of records is maintained by an agency or component thereof which performs as its principal function any activity pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws and which consists of:

(1) Information compiled for the purpose of identifying individual criminal offenders and alleged offenders and consisting only of identifying data and notations of arrests, the nature and disposition of criminal charges, sentencing, confinement, release, and parole and probation status;

(2) Information compiled for the purpose of a criminal investigation, including reports of informants and investigators, and associated with an identifiable individual; or

(3) Reports identifiable to an individual compiled at any stage of the Start Printed Page 237process of enforcement of the criminal laws from arrest or indictment through release from supervision.

(c) Qualification for exemption. (1) The Agency's system of records, EPA-17 system of records is maintained by the Criminal Investigation Division, Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training, a component of EPA which performs as its principal function activities pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws. Authority for the Division's criminal law enforcement activities comes from Powers of Environmental Protection Agency, 18 U.S.C. 3063; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9603; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. 6928; Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1319, 1321; Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. 2614, 2615; Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7413; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. 136j, 136l; Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300h-2, 300i-1; Noise Control Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. 4912; Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. 11045; and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, 33 U.S.C. 1415.

(2) The Agency's system of records, EPA-40 system of records is maintained by the Office of Investigations of the Office of Inspector General (OIG), a component of EPA that performs as its principal function activities pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws. Authority for the criminal law enforcement activities of the OIG's Office of Investigations is the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, 5 U.S.C. app. 3.

(3) The Agency's system of records, EPA-46 system of records is maintained by the National Enforcement Investigations Center, Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training, a component of EPA which performs as its principal function activities pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws. Authority for the criminal law enforcement activities comes from Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970 (5 U.S.C. app. 1), effective December 2, 1970; Powers of Environmental Protection Agency, 18 U.S.C. 3063; Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act , 42 U.S.C. 9603; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. 6928; Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1319, 1321; Toxic Substances Control Act, 15 U.S.C. 2614, 2615; Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7413; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. 136j, 136l; Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300h-2, 300i-1; Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986, 42 U.S.C. 11045; and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, 33 U.S.C. 1415.

(d) Scope of Exemption. EPA systems of records 17, 40, and 46 are exempted from the following provisions of the PA: 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) and (4); (d); (e)(1), (2), (3), (4)(G), and (H), (5), and (8); (f)(2) through (5); and (g). To the extent that the exemption for EPA systems of records 17, 40, and 46 claimed under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2) of the Act is held to be invalid, then an exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2) is claimed for these systems of records from (c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (H), and (f)(2) through (5). For Agency's system of records, EPA system 40, an exemption is separately claimed under 5 U.S.C. 552(k)(5) from (c)(3), (d), (e)(1), (e)(4)(G), (4)(H), and (f)(2) through (5).

(e) Reasons for exemption. EPA systems of records 17, 40, and 46 are exempted from the above provisions of the PA for the following reasons:

(1) 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) requires an agency to make the accounting of each disclosure of records available to the individual named in the record upon request. These accountings must state the date, nature, and purpose of each disclosure of a record and the name and address of the recipient. Accounting for each disclosure would alert the subjects of an investigation to the existence of the investigation and the fact that they are subjects of the investigation. The release of such information to the subjects of an investigation would provide them with significant information concerning the nature of the investigation, and could seriously impede or compromise the investigation, endanger the physical safety of confidential sources, witnesses, law enforcement personnel and their families, and lead to the improper influencing of witnesses, the destruction of evidence, or the fabrication of testimony.

(2) 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(4) requires an agency to inform any person or other agency about any correction or notation of dispute made by the agency in accordance with subsection (d) of the Act. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempt from subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, this section is inapplicable and is exempted to the extent that these systems of records are exempted from subsection (d) of the Act.

(3) 5 U.S.C. 552a(d) requires an agency to permit an individual to gain access to records pertaining to him or her, to request amendment to such records, to request a review of an agency decision not to amend such records, and to contest the information contained in such records. Granting access to records in these systems of records could inform the subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal violation of the existence of that investigation, of the nature and scope of the information and evidence obtained as to his activities, of the identity of confidential sources, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel, and could provide information to enable the subject to avoid detection or apprehension. Granting access to such information could seriously impede or compromise an investigation, endanger the physical safety of confidential sources, witnesses, law enforcement personnel and their families, lead to the improper influencing of witnesses, the destruction of evidence, or the fabrication of testimony, and disclose investigative techniques and procedures. In addition, granting access to such information could disclose classified, security-sensitive, or confidential business information and could constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of others.

(4) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) requires each agency to maintain in its records only such information about an individual as is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required by statute or by Executive order of the President. The application of this provision could impair investigations and law enforcement, because it is not always possible to detect the relevance or necessity of specific information in the early stages of an investigation. Relevance and necessity are often questions of judgment and timing, and it is only after the information is evaluated that the relevance and necessity of such information can be established. In addition, during the course of the investigation, the investigator may obtain information which is 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. Furthermore, during the course of the investigation, the investigator may obtain information concerning the violation of laws other than those which are within the scope of his jurisdiction. In the interest of effective law enforcement, the EPA investigators should retain this information, since it can aid in establishing patterns of criminal activity and can provide valuable leads for other law enforcement agencies. Start Printed Page 238

(5) 5 U.S.C. 552a(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 privileges under Federal programs. The application of this provision could impair investigations and law enforcement by alerting the subject of an investigation of the existence of the investigation, enabling the subject to avoid detection or apprehension, to influence witnesses improperly, to destroy evidence, or to fabricate testimony. Moreover, in certain circumstances, the subject of an investigation cannot be required to provide information to investigators, and information must be collected from other sources. Furthermore, it is often necessary to collect information from sources other than the subject of the investigation to verify the accuracy of the evidence collected.

(6) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(3) requires an agency to inform each person whom it asks to supply information, on a form that can be retained by the person, of the authority under which the information is sought and whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary; of the principal purposes for which the information is intended to be used; of the routine uses which may be made of the information; and of the effects on the person, if any, of not providing all or any part of the requested information. The application of this provision could provide the subject of an investigation with substantial information about the nature of that investigation, which could interfere with the investigation. Moreover, providing such a notice to the subject of an investigation could seriously impede or compromise on undercover investigation by revealing its existence and could endanger the physical safety of confidential sources, witnesses, and investigators by revealing their identities.

(7) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4) (G) and (H) require an agency to publish a Federal Register notice concerning its procedures for notifying an individual at his request if the system of records contains a record pertaining to him or her, how to gain access to such a record, and how to contest its content. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempted from parts of subsection (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, concerning agency rules, and subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, these requirements are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that these systems of records are exempted from subsections (f) and (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from these requirements, the Agency has published such a notice concerning its notification, access, and contest procedures because, under certain circumstances, EPA might decide it is appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of the individual's records in these systems of records.

(8) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(5) requires an agency to maintain its records with such accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and completeness as is reasonably necessary to assure fairness to the individual in making any determination about the individual. Since the Act 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 it is collected. In collecting information for criminal law enforcement purposes, it is not possible to determine in advance what information is accurate, relevant, timely, and complete. Facts are first gathered and then placed into a logical order to prove or disprove objectively the criminal behavior of an individual. Material that may seem unrelated, irrelevant, or incomplete when collected may take on added meaning or significance as the investigation progresses. The restrictions of this provision could interfere with the preparation of a complete investigative report, thereby impeding effective law enforcement.

(9) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(8) requires an agency to make reasonable efforts to serve notice on an individual when any record on such individual is made available to any person under compulsory legal process when such process becomes a matter of public record. Complying with this provision could prematurely reveal an ongoing criminal investigation to the subject of the investigation.

(10) 5 U.S.C. 552a(f)(1) requires an agency to promulgate rules which shall establish procedures whereby an individual can be notified in response to his request if any system of records named by the individual contains a record pertaining to him or her. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempt from subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, the requirements of subsections (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, concerning agency rules for obtaining access to such records, are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that these systems of records are exempted from subsection (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from the requirements of subsection (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, EPA has promulgated rules which establish Agency procedures because, under certain circumstances, it might be appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of his records in these systems of records. These procedures are described elsewhere in this part.

(11) 5 U.S.C. 552a(g) provides for civil remedies if an agency fails to comply with the requirements concerning access to records under subsections (d)(1) and (3) of the Act; maintenance of records under subsection (e)(5) of the Act; and any other provision of the Act, or any rule promulgated thereunder, in such a way as to have an adverse effect on an individual. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempt from subsections (c)(3) and (4), (d), (e)(1), (2), (3), (4)(G), (H), and (I), (5), and (8), and (f) of the Act, the provisions of subsection (g) of the Act are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that these systems of records are exempted from those subsections of the Act.

(f) Exempt records provided by another agency. Individuals may not have access to records maintained by the EPA if such records were provided by another Federal agency which has determined by regulation that such records are subject to general exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j). If an individual requests access to such exempt records, EPA will consult with the source agency.

(g) Exempt records included in a nonexempt system of records. All records obtained from a system of records that has been determined by regulation to be subject to general exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j) retain their exempt status even if such records are also included in a system of records for which a general exemption has not been claimed.

Specific exemptions.

(a) Exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2)—(1) Systems of records affected. EPA-17 OCEFT Criminal Investigative Index and Files.

EPA-21 External Compliance Program Discrimination Complaint Files.

EPA-30 OIG Hotline Allegation System.

EPA-40 Inspector General's Operation and Reporting (IGOR) System Investigative Files.

EPA-41 Inspector General's Operation and Reporting (IGOR) System Personnel Security Files.

EPA-46 OCEFT/NEIC Master Tracking System. Start Printed Page 239

(2) Authority. Under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2), the head of any Federal agency may by rule exempt any PA system of records within the agency from certain provisions of the Act, if the system of records is investigatory material compiled for law enforcement purposes, other than material within the scope of subsection (j)(2) of the Act. However, if any individual is denied any right, privilege, or benefit that the individual would otherwise be entitled to by Federal law, or for which he or she would otherwise be eligible, as a result of the maintenance of the material, the material must be provided, except to the extent that the disclosure would reveal the identify of a confidential source.

(3) Qualification for exemption. All of the affected PA systems of records contain investigatory material compiled for law enforcement purposes, material which is not within the scope of subsection (j)(2) of the Act.

(4) Scope of exemption. (i) EPA systems of records 17, 30, 40, 41, and 46 are exempted from the following provisions of the PA, subject to the limitations set forth in 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2): 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1), (4)(G) and (4)(H); and (f)(2) through (5). EPA system of records 21 is exempt from the following provisions of the PA, subject to the limitations set forth in 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2): 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3), (d), and (e)(1).

(ii) An individual is “denied any right, privilege, or benefit that he or she would otherwise be entitled by Federal law, or for which he or she would otherwise be eligible, as a result of the maintenance of such material,” only if EPA actually uses the material in denying or proposing to deny such right, privilege, or benefit.

(iii) EPA-17 OCEFT Criminal Investigative Index and Files, EPA-40 Inspector General's Operation and Reporting (IGOR) System Investigative Files, and EPA-46 OCEFT/NEIC Master Tracking System are exempted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2), and these systems are exempted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2) only to the extent that the (j)(2) exemption is held to be invalid.

(5) Reasons for exemption. EPA systems of records 17, 21, 30, 40, 41, and 46 are exempted from the above provisions of the PA for the following reasons:

(i) 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) requires an agency to make the accounting of each disclosure of records available to the individual named in the record at his or her request. These accountings must state the date, nature, and purpose of each disclosure of a record and the name and address of the recipient. Accounting for each disclosure would alert the subjects of an investigation to the existence of the investigation and the fact that they are subjects of the investigation. The release of such information to the subjects of an investigation would provide them with significant information concerning the nature of the investigation, and could seriously impede or compromise the investigation, endanger the physical safety of confidential sources, witnesses, law enforcement personnel and their families, and lead to the improper influencing of witnesses, the destruction of evidence, or the fabrication of testimony.

(ii) 5 U.S.C. 552a(d) requires an agency to permit an individual to gain access to records pertaining to him or her, to request amendment of such records, to request a review of an agency decision not to amend such records, and to contest the information contained in such records. Granting access to records in these affected PA systems of records could inform the subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal violation, of the existence of that investigation, of the nature and scope of the information and evidence obtained as to his or her activities, of the identity of confidential sources, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel, and could provide information to enable the subject to avoid detection or apprehension. Granting access to such information could seriously impede or compromise an investigation, endanger the physical safety of confidential sources, witnesses, law enforcement personnel and their families, lead to the improper influencing of witnesses, the destruction of evidence, or the fabrication of testimony, and disclose investigative techniques and procedures. In addition, granting access to such information could disclose classified, security-sensitive, or confidential business information and could constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of others.

(iii) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) requires each agency to maintain in its records only such information about an individual as is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required by statute or by Executive order of the President. Maintaining records in this way could impair investigations and law enforcement efforts, because it is not always possible to detect the relevance or necessity of specific information in the early stages of an investigation. The relevance and necessity of maintaining information are often questions of judgment and timing, and it is only after that information is evaluated that its relevance and necessity can be established. In addition, during the course of an investigation, the investigator may obtain information which is 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. Furthermore, during the course of an investigation, the investigator may obtain information concerning the violation of laws other than those within the scope of the agency's jurisdiction. In the interest of effective law enforcement, EPA investigators should retain this information, since it can aid in establishing patterns of criminal activity and can provide valuable leads for other law enforcement agencies.

(iv) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4)(G) and (H) require an agency to publish a Federal Register notice concerning its procedures for notifying an individual upon request if the system of records contains a record pertaining to him or her, how the individual can gain access to the record, and how to contest its content. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempt from subsection (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, concerning agency rules, and subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, these requirements are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that these systems of records are exempted from subsections (f) and (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from these requirements, EPA has published such a notice concerning its notification, access, and contest procedures because, under certain circumstances, EPA might decide it is appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of his records in these systems of records.

(v) 5 U.S.C. 552a(f)(1) requires an agency to promulgate rules which shall establish procedures whereby an individual can be notified in response to his or her request if any system of records named by the individual contains a record pertaining to him or her. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempt from subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, the requirements of subsections (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, concerning agency rules for obtaining access to such records, are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that these systems of records are exempted from subsection (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from the requirements of subsection (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, EPA has promulgated rules which establish Agency procedures because, under Start Printed Page 240certain circumstances, it might be appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of his records in these systems of records. These procedures are described elsewhere in this part.

(b) Exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(5)—(1) Systems of records affected. EPA 36 Research Grant, Cooperative Agreement, and Fellowship Application Files.

EPA 40 Inspector General's Operation and Reporting (IGOR) System Investigative Files.

EPA 41 Inspector General's Operation and Reporting (IGOR) System Personnel Security Files.

(2) Authority. Under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(5), the head of any agency may by rule exempt any system of records within the agency from certain provisions of the PA, if the system of records is investigatory material compiled solely for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for Federal civilian employment, Federal contracts, or access to classified information, but only to the extent that the disclosure of such material would reveal the identity of a source who furnished information to the Government under an express promise that the identity of the source would be held in confidence, or, prior to September 27, 1975, under an implied promise that the identity would be held in confidence.

(3) Qualification for exemption. These systems contain 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.

(4) Scope of exemption. (i) EPA 36 is exempted from 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) and (d). EPA 40 and 41 are exempted from the following provisions of the PA, subject to the limitations of 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(5); 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1), (4)(H); and (f)(2) through (5).

(ii) To the extent that records in EPA 40 and 41 reveal a violation or potential violation of law, then an exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2) is also claimed for these records. EPA 40 is also exempt under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j)(2) of the Act.

(5) Reasons for exemption. EPA 36, 40, and 41 are exempted from the above provisions of the PA for the following reasons:

(i) 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) requires an agency to make the accounting of each disclosure of records available to the individual named in the record at his or her request. These accountings must state the date, nature, and purpose of each disclosure of a record and the name and address of the recipient. Making such an accounting could cause the identity of a confidential source to be revealed, endangering the physical safety of the confidential source, and could impair the ability of the EPA to compile, in the future, investigatory material for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for Federal civilian employment, Federal contracts, or access to classified information.

(ii) 5 U.S.C. 552a(d) requires an agency to permit an individual to gain access to records pertaining to him or her, to request amendment to such records, to request a review of an agency decision not to amend such records, and to contest the information contained in such records. Granting such access could cause the identity of a confidential source to be revealed, endangering the physical safety of the confidential source, and could impair the ability of the EPA to compile, in the future, investigatory material for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for Federal civilian employment, Federal contracts, or access to classified information.

(iii) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) requires each agency to maintain in its records only such information about an individual as is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required by statute or by Executive order of the President. The application of this provision could impair investigations, because it is not always possible to detect the relevance or necessity of specific information in the early stages of an investigation. Relevance and necessity are often questions of judgment and timing, and it is only after the information is evaluated that the relevance and necessity of such information can be established.

(iv) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4)(H) requires an agency to publish a Federal Register notice concerning its procedures for notifying an individual upon request how to gain access to any record pertaining to him or her and how to contest its content. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempt from subsections (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, concerning agency rules, and subsection (b) of the Act, concerning access to records, these requirements are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that these systems of records are exempted from subsections (f)(2) through (5) and (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from these requirements, EPA has published such a notice concerning its access and contest procedures because, under certain circumstances, EPA might decide it is appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of his records in these systems of records.

(v) 5 U.S.C. 552a(f)(2) through (5) require an agency to promulgate rules for obtaining access to records. Since EPA is claiming that these systems of records are exempt from subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, the requirements of subsections (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, concerning agency rules for obtaining access to such records, are inapplicable and are exempt to the extent that this system of records is exempt from subsection (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from the requirements of subsections (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, EPA has promulgated rules which establish Agency procedures because, under certain circumstances, it might be appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of his records in this system of records. These procedures are described elsewhere in this part.

(c) Exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(1)—(1) System of records affected. EPA 41 Inspector General's Operation and Reporting (IGOR) System Personnel Security Files.

(2) Authority. Under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(1), the head of any agency may by rule exempt any system of records within the agency from certain provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974, if the system of records is subject to the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1). A system of records is subject to the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1) if it contains records that are specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order.

(3) Qualification for Exemption. EPA 41 may contain some records that bear a national defense/foreign policy classification of Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret.

(4) Scope of exemption. To the extent that EPA 41 contains records provided by other Federal agencies that are specifically authorized under criteria established by Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and are in fact properly classified by other Federal agencies pursuant to that Executive Order, the system of records is exempted from the following provisions of the PA: 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1), (4)(G) and (4)(H); and (f)(2) through (5) of the Act. Start Printed Page 241

(5) Reasons for exemption. EPA 41 is exempted from the above provisions of the PA for the following reasons:

(i) 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3) requires an agency to make the accounting of each disclosure of records available to the individual named in the record at his request. These accountings must state the date, nature, and purpose of each disclosure of a record and the name and address of the recipient. Making such an accounting could result in the release of properly classified information, which would compromise the national defense or disrupt foreign policy.

(ii) 5 U.S.C. 552a(d) requires an agency to permit an individual to gain access to records pertaining to him or her, to request amendment to such records, to request a review of an agency decision not to amend such records, and to contest the information contained in such records. Granting such access could cause the release of properly classified information, which would compromise the national defense or disrupt foreign policy.

(iii) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(1) requires each agency to maintain in its records only such information about an individual as is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency required by statute or by Executive order of the President. The application of this provision could impair personnel security investigations which use properly classified information, because it is not always possible to know the relevance or necessity of specific information in the early stages of an investigation. Relevance and necessity are often questions of judgment and timing, and it is only after the information is evaluated that the relevance and necessity of such information can be established.

(iv) 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4) (G) and (H) require an agency to publish a Federal Register notice concerning its procedures for notifying an individual upon request if the system of records contains a record pertaining to him or her, how to gain access to such a record, and how to contest its content. Since EPA is claiming that this system of records is exempt from subsection (f) of the Act, concerning agency rules, and subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, these requirements are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that this system of records is exempted from subsections (f) and (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from these requirements, EPA has published such a notice concerning its notification, access, and contest procedures because, under certain circumstances, EPA might decide it is appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of his records in this system of records.

(v) 5 U.S.C. 552a(f)(1) requires an agency to promulgate rules which shall establish procedures whereby an individual can be notified in response to his request if any system of records named by the individual contains a record pertaining to him or her. Since EPA is claiming that this system of records is exempt from subsection (d) of the Act, concerning access to records, the requirements of subsections (f)(2) through (5) of the Act, concerning agency rules for obtaining access to such records, are inapplicable and are exempted to the extent that this system of records is exempt from subsection (d) of the Act. Although EPA is claiming exemption from the requirements of subsection (f) of the Act, EPA has promulgated rules which establish Agency procedures because, under certain circumstances, it might be appropriate for an individual to have access to all or a portion of his or her records in this system of records. These procedures are described elsewhere in this part.

(d) Exempt records provided by another Federal agency. Individuals may not have access to records maintained by the EPA if such records were provided by another Federal agency which has determined by regulation that such records are subject to general exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(j) or specific exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k). If an individual requests access to such exempt records, EPA will consult with the source agency.

(e) Exempt records included in a nonexempt system of records. All records obtained from a system of records which has been determined by regulation to be subject to specific exemption under 5 U.S.C. 552a(k) retain their exempt status even if such records are also included in a system of records for which a specific exemption has not been claimed.

End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 06-45 Filed 1-3-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-P