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Notice

Privacy Act of 1974

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

ACTION:

Notice of Amendment to System of Records.

SUMMARY:

The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552(e) (4)) requires that all agencies publish in the Federal Register a notice of the existence and character of their systems of records. Notice is hereby given that VA is amending the system of records currently entitled “Decentralized Hospital Computer Program (DHCP) Medical Management Records-VA” (79VA162) as set forth in the Federal Register 56 FR 6048. VA is amending the system by revising the System Name and number and the paragraphs for System Location, Categories of Records in the System, Authority for Maintenance of the System, Routine Uses of Records Maintained in the System, and System Manager. The change in name will more accurately identify the system and the change in number will reflect organizational changes. VA is republishing the system notice in its entirety.

DATES:

Comments on the amendment of this system of records must be received no later than February 26, 2010 If no public comment is received, the new system will become effective February 26, 2010.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments may be submitted through http://www.Regulations.gov;​ by mail or hand-delivery to Director, Regulations Management (02Reg), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273-9026. Comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1063B, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 (this is not a toll-free number) for an appointment. In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) at http://www.Regulations.gov.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Privacy Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420, telephone (704) 245-2492.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The name and number of the system is changed from “Decentralized Hospital Computer Program (DHCP) Medical Management Records-VA” (79VA162) to the “Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) Records-VA” (79VA19). The change in name will more accurately reflect the new, open systems, client-server based architecture, and the change in system number will reflect organizational changes. The System Location was amended to reflect the current organization structure with Veterans Integrated Service Network Offices having replaced Regional Director Offices. Categories of Records in the System were amended to add five new types of records maintained in VistA. The Authority for Maintenance of the System was amended to reflect current codification of the statute. The System Manager was amended to reflect organization changes.

Background: In the 1980s, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) developed an electronic health care architecture called the Decentralized Hospital Computer Program (DHCP) that was comprised of software applications that were integrated into a complete hospital information system primarily for hospital-based activities. DHCP was installed at VA medical facilities to provide comprehensive support for clinical and administrative needs and for VA-wide management information. By 1990, VHA upgraded computer capacity at all medical facilities, and implemented software on a national scale that supported integrated health care delivery. In 1996, VHA introduced the VistA, a client-server architecture that tied together workstations and personal computers and supported the day-to-day operations at all health care facilities, as well as software developed by local medical facility staff. VistA also includes the links that allow commercial off-the-shelf software and products to be used with existing and future technologies.

The purpose of the system of records is to provide a repository for the administrative information that is used to accomplish the purposes described. The records include information provided by applicants for employment, employees, volunteers, trainees, contractors and subcontractors, consultants, maintenance personnel, students, patients, and information obtained in the course of routine work done. Quality assurance information that is protected by 38 U.S.C. 5705 and 38 CFR 17.500-17.511 is not within the scope of the Privacy Act and, therefore, is not included in this system of records or filed in a manner in which the information may be retrieved by reference to an individual identifier.

Data stored in VistA is used to prepare various management, tracking and follow-up reports that are used to assist in the management and operation of the health care facility, and the planning and delivery of patient medical care. Data may be used to track and evaluate patient care services, the distribution and utilization of resources, and the performance of vendors and employees. The data may also be used for such purposes as scheduling employees' tours of duty and for scheduling patient treatment services, including nursing care, clinic appointments, survey, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Data may also be used to track the ordering, delivery, maintenance and repair of equipment, and for follow-up activities to determine if the actions were accomplished and to evaluate the results.

Routine use disclosures have been added, as described below, to enable efficient administration and operation of health care facilities, and to assist in the planning and delivery of patient medical care:

  • Routine use twenty-three (23) states the social security number, universal personal identification number and other identifying information of a health care provider may be disclosed to a third party where the third party requires the agency to provide that information before it will pay for medical care provided by VA. VA, under Public Law 99-272, is required to recover costs for medical services in certain circumstances provided to the veteran from the veteran's third party insurance carrier. Third party insurance Start Printed Page 4455carriers may require VA to provide the social security number(s) of the health care provider(s) before reimbursing VA for medical services rendered.
  • Routine use twenty-four (24) states relevant information may be disclosed to individuals, organizations, private or public agencies, etc., with whom VA has a contract or agreement to perform such services as VA may deem practical for the purposes of laws administered by VA, in order for the contractor to perform the services of the contract or agreement. This routine use is being added to allow for the disclosure of information to contractors when performing an agency function. VA must be able to share information with contractors.
  • Routine use twenty-five (25) allows disclosure of relevant health care information to individuals or organizations (private or public) with whom VA has a contract or sharing agreement for the provision of health care, administrative or financial services. VA must be able to share information with other organizations participating in the care of veterans.
  • Routine use twenty-six (26) allows disclosure to other Federal agencies made to assist such agencies in preventing and detecting possible fraud or abuse by individuals in their operations and programs. This routine use permits disclosures by the Department to report a suspected incident of identity theft and provide information and documentation related to or in support of the reported incident.
  • Routine use twenty-seven (27) allows VA to disclose any information or records to appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when (1) VA suspects or has confirmed that the integrity or confidentiality of information in the system of records has been compromised; (2) the Department has determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise, there is a risk of embarrassment or harm to the reputations of the record subjects, harm to economic or property interests, identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security, confidentiality, or integrity of this system or other systems or programs (whether maintained by the Department or another agency or entity) that rely upon the potentially compromised information; and (3) the disclosure is to agencies, entities, or persons whom VA determines are reasonably necessary to assist or carry out the Department's efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm. This routine use permits disclosures by the Department to respond to a suspected or confirmed data breach, including the conduct of any risk analysis or provision of credit protection services as provided in 38 U.S.C. 5724, as the terms are defined in 38 U.S.C. 5727.

The notice of intent to publish and an advance copy of the system notice have been sent to the appropriate Congressional committees and to the Director of Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as required by 5 U.S.C. 552a(r) (Privacy Act) and guidelines issued by OMB (61 FR 6428), February 20, 1996.

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Approved: January 8, 2010.

John R. Gingrich,

Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs.

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79VA19

SYSTEM NAME:

Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) Records-VA.

SYSTEM LOCATION:

Records are maintained at VA health care facilities, Regional Data Processing Centers and (in most cases), archival storage of the VistA data to back up tapes are maintained at off-site locations. Address locations for VA facilities are listed in VA Appendix 1. In addition, information from these records or copies of records may be maintained at the Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC, VA Data Processing Centers, VA Office of Information & Technology (OI&T) Field Offices, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) Offices, and Employee Education Systems.

CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS COVERED BY THE SYSTEM:

The records include information concerning current and former employees, applicants for employment, trainees, contractors, sub-contractors, contract personnel, students, providers and consultants, patients and members of their immediate family, volunteers, maintenance personnel, as well as individuals working collaboratively with VA.

CATEGORIES OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

The records may include information related to:

1. Workload such as orders entered, verified, and edited (e.g., engineering work orders, doctors' orders for patient care including nursing care, the scheduling and delivery of medications, consultations, radiology, laboratory and other diagnostic and therapeutic examinations); results entered; items checked out and items in use (e.g., library books, keys, x-rays, patient medical records, equipment, supplies, reference materials); work plans entered and the subsequent tracking (e.g., construction projects, engineering work orders and equipment maintenance and repairs assigned to employees and status, duty schedules, work assignments, work requirements); reports of contact with individuals or groups; employees' (including volunteers) work performance information (e.g., duties and responsibilities assigned and completed, amount of supplies used, time used, quantity and quality of output, productivity reports, schedules of patients assigned and treatment to be provided);

2. Administrative procedures, duties, and assignments of certain personnel;

3. Computer access authorizations, computer applications available and used, information access attempts, frequency and time of use; identification of the person responsible for, currently assigned, or otherwise engaged in various categories of patient care or support of health care delivery; vehicle registration (motor vehicles and bicycles) and parking space assignments; community and special project participants and attendees (e.g., sports events, concerts, National Wheelchair Games); employee work-related accidents. The record may include identifying information (e.g., name, date of birth, age, sex, social security number, taxpayer identification number); address information (e.g., home and mailing address, home telephone number, emergency contact information such as name, address, telephone number, and relationship); information related to training (e.g., security, safety, in-service), education and continuing education (e.g., name and address of schools and dates of attendance, courses attended and scheduled to attend, type of degree, certificate, grades etc.); information related to military service and status; qualifications for employment (e.g., license, degree, registration or certification, experience); vehicle information (e.g., type make, model, license and registration number); evaluation of clinical and technical skills; services or products purchased (e.g., vendor name and address, details about evaluation of service or product, price, fee, cost, dates purchased and delivered, employee workload and productivity data); employee work-related injuries (cause, severity, type of injury, body part affected);

4. Financial information, such as service line and clinic budgets, projected and actual costs;Start Printed Page 4456

5. Supply information, such as services, materials and equipment ordered;

6. Abstract information (e.g., data warehouses, environmental and epidemiological registries, etc.) is maintained in auxiliary paper and automated records;

7. Electronic messages;

8. The social security number and universal personal identification number of health care providers;

9. Practitioner DEA registration numbers; and

10. The Integration Control Number or Veterans Administration Person Identifier.

AUTHORITY FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE SYSTEM:

Title 38, United States Code, section 7301(a).

PURPOSE(S):

The records and information may be used for statistical analysis to produce various management, workload tracking and follow-up reports; to track and evaluate the ordering and delivery of equipment, services and patient care; the planning, distribution and utilization of resources; the possession and use of equipment or supplies; the performance of vendors, equipment, and employees; and to provide clinical and administrative support to patient medical care. The data may be used for research purposes. The data may be used also for such purposes as assisting in the scheduling of tours of duties and job assignments of employees; the scheduling of patient treatment services, including nursing care, clinic appointments, surgery, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures; the repair and maintenance of equipment and for follow-up activities to determine that the actions were accomplished and to evaluate the results; the registration of vehicles and the assignment and utilization of parking spaces; to plan, schedule, and maintain rosters of patients, employees and others attending or participating in sports, recreational or other events (e.g., National Wheelchair Games, concerts, picnics); for audits, reviews and investigations conducted by staff of the health care facility, the Network Directors Office, VA Central Office, and the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG); for quality assurance audits, reviews, investigations and inspections; for law enforcement investigations; and for personnel management, evaluation and employee ratings, and performance evaluations.

ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OF USERS AND THE PURPOSES OF SUCH USES:

To the extent that records contained in the system include information protected by 38 U.S.C. 7332, i.e., medical treatment information related to drug abuse, alcoholism or alcohol abuse, sickle cell anemia or infection with the human immunodeficiency virus, that information cannot be disclosed under a routine use unless there is also specific statutory authority permitting disclosure. VA may disclose protected health information pursuant to the following routine uses where required by law, or permitted by 45 CFR parts 160 and 164.

1. In the event that a record maintained by VA to carry out its functions indicates a violation or potential violation of law, whether civil, criminal or regulatory in nature, and whether arising by general statute or particular program statute, or by regulation, rule or order issued pursuant thereto, information may be disclosed to the appropriate agency whether Federal, state, local or foreign, charged with the responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation or charged with enforcing or implementing the statute or rule, regulation or order issued pursuant thereto.

2. Disclosure may be made to any source from which additional information is requested (to the extent necessary to identify the individual, inform the source of the purpose(s) of the request, and to identify the type of information requested), when necessary to obtain information relevant to a Department decision concerning the hiring or retention of an employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the conducting of a security or suitability investigation of an individual, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant, or other benefits.

3. Disclosure may be made to an agency in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch, or the District of Columbia government in response to its request or at the initiation of VA, in connection with the hiring of an employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the conducting of a security or suitability investigation of an individual, the letting of a contract, the issuance of a license, grant, or other benefits by the requesting agency, or the lawful statutory, administrative, or investigative purpose of the agency to the extent that the information is relevant and necessary to the requesting agency's decision.

4. Disclosure may be made to a Congressional office from the record of an individual in response to an inquiry from the Congressional office made at the request of that individual.

5. Disclosure may be made to National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in records management inspections conducted under authority of 44 U.S.C. 2904 and 2906.

6. Disclosure may be made to the Department of Justice and United States Attorneys in defense or prosecution of litigation involving the United States, and to Federal agencies upon their request in connection with review of administrative tort claims filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2672.

7. Hiring, performance, or other personnel-related information may be disclosed to any facility with which there is or there is proposed to be an affiliation, sharing agreement, contract, or similar arrangement for purposes of establishing, maintaining, or expanding any such relationship.

8. Disclosure may be made to a Federal, State or local government licensing board and to the Federation of State Medical Boards or a similar non-government entity which maintains records concerning individual employment histories or concerning the issuance, retention or revocation of licenses, certifications, or registration necessary to practice an occupation, profession or specialty; in order for the Department to obtain information relevant to a Department decision concerning the hiring, retention or termination of an employee; or to inform a Federal agency, licensing boards or the appropriate non-government entities about the health care practices of a terminated, resigned or retired health care employee whose professional health care activity so significantly failed to conform to generally accepted standards of professional medical practice as to raise reasonable concern for the health and safety of patients receiving medical care in the private sector or from another Federal agency. These records may also be disclosed as part of an ongoing computer matching program to accomplish these purposes.

9. For program review purposes, and the seeking of accreditation and/or certification, disclosure may be made to survey teams of The Joint Commission, College of American Pathologists, American Association of Blood Banks, and similar national accreditation agencies or boards with whom VA has a contract or agreement to conduct such reviews, but only to the extent that the information is necessary and relevant to the review.

10. Disclosure may be made to a State or local government entity or national Start Printed Page 4457certifying body which has the authority to make decisions concerning the issuance, retention or revocation of licenses, certifications or registrations required to practice a health care profession, when requested in writing by an investigator or supervisory official of the licensing entity or national certifying body for the purpose of making a decision concerning the issuance, retention or revocation of the license, certification or registration of a named health care professional.

11. Any information which is relevant to a suspected violation or reasonably imminent violation of law, whether civil, criminal or regulatory in nature, and whether arising by general or program statute or by regulation, rule or order issued pursuant thereto, may be disclosed to a Federal, State, local or foreign agency charged with the responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation, rule or order issued pursuant thereto.

12. Disclosure may be made to officials of labor organizations recognized under 5 U.S.C. chapter 71 when relevant and necessary to their duties of exclusive representation concerning personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting working conditions.

13. Disclosure may be made to the VA-appointed representative of an employee, including all notices, determinations, decisions, or other written communications issued to the employee in connection with an examination ordered by VA under medical evaluation (formerly fitness-for-duty) examination procedures or Department-filed disability retirement procedures.

14. Disclosure may be made to officials of the Merit Systems Protection Board, including the Office of the Special Counsel, when requested in connection with appeals, special studies of the civil service and other merit systems, review of rules and regulations, investigation of alleged or possible prohibited personnel practices, and such other functions, promulgated in 5 U.S.C. 1205 and 1206, or as may be authorized by law.

15. Disclosure may be made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when requested in connection with investigations of alleged or possible discrimination practices, examination of Federal affirmative employment programs, compliance with the Uniform Guidelines of Employee Selection Procedures, or other functions vested in the Commission by the President's Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978.

16. Disclosure may be made to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, including its General Counsel, when requested in connection with investigation and resolution of allegations of unfair labor practices, in connection with the resolution of exceptions to arbitrator awards when a question of material fact is raised and matters before the Federal Service Impasses Panel.

17. Disclosure may be made in consideration and selection of employees for incentive awards and other honors and to publicize those granted. This may include disclosure to other public and private organizations, including news media, which grant or publicize employee awards or honors.

18. Disclosure may be made to consider employees for recognition through administrative and quality step increases and to publicize those granted. This may include disclosure to other public and private organizations, including news media, which grant or publicize employee recognition.

19. Identifying information such as name, address, social security number and other information as is reasonably necessary to identify such individual, may be disclosed to the National Practitioner Data Bank at the time of hiring or clinical privileging/reprivileging of health care practitioners, and at other times as deemed necessary by VA in order for VA to obtain information relevant to a Department decision concerning the hiring, privileging/reprivileging, retention or termination of the applicant or employee.

20. Disclosure of relevant information may be made to the National Practitioner Data Bank or to a State or local government licensing board which maintains records concerning the issuance, retention or revocation of licenses, certifications, or registrations necessary to practice an occupation, profession or specialty when under the following circumstances, through a peer review process that is undertaken pursuant to VA policy, negligence, professional incompetence, responsibility for improper care, or professional misconduct has been assigned to a physician or licensed or certified health care practitioner: (1) On any payment in settlement (or partial settlement) of, or in satisfaction of a judgment in a medical malpractice action or claim; or, (2) on any final decision that adversely affects the clinical privileges of a physician or practitioner for a period of more than 30 days. These records may also be disclosed as part of a computer matching program to accomplish these purposes.

21. Disclosure of medical record data, excluding name and address, unless name and address is furnished by the requester, may be made to epidemiological and other research facilities for research purposes determined to be necessary and proper and approved by the Under Secretary for Health.

22. Disclosure of names and addresses of present or former personnel of the Armed Services, and their dependents, may be made to: (a) A Federal department or agency, at the written request of the head or designee of that agency; or (b) directly to a contractor or subcontractor of a Federal department or agency, for the purpose of conducting Federal research necessary to accomplish a statutory purpose of an agency. When disclosure of this information is made directly to a contractor, VA may impose applicable conditions on the department, agency, or contractor to insure the appropriateness of the disclosure to the contractor.

23. The social security number, universal personal identification number and other identifying information of a health care provider may be disclosed to a third party where the third party requires the agency to provide that information before it will pay for medical care provided by VA.

24. Relevant information may be disclosed to individuals, organizations, private or public agencies, etc., with whom VA has a contract or agreement to perform such services as VA may deem practical for the purposes of laws administered by VA, in order for the contractor to perform the services of the contract or agreement.

25. Disclosure of relevant health care information may be made to individuals or organizations (private or public) with whom VA has a contract or sharing agreement for the provision of health care or administrative or financial services.

26. Disclosure to other Federal agencies may be made to assist such agencies in preventing and detecting possible fraud or abuse by individuals in their operations and programs.

27. VA may, on its own initiative, disclose any information or records to appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when (1) VA suspects or has confirmed that the integrity or confidentiality of information in the system of records has been compromised; (2) the Department has determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise, there is a risk of embarrassment or harm Start Printed Page 4458to the reputations of the record subjects, harm to economic or property interests, identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security, confidentiality, or integrity of this system or other systems or programs (whether maintained by the Department or another agency or entity) that rely upon the potentially compromised information; and (3) the disclosure is to agencies, entities, or persons whom VA determines are reasonably necessary to assist or carry out the Department's efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm. This routine use permits disclosures by the Department to respond to a suspected or confirmed data breach, including the conduct of any risk analysis or provision of credit protection services as provided in 38 U.S.C. 5724, as the terms are defined in 38 U.S.C. 5727.

POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR STORING, RETRIEVING, ACCESSING, RETAINING, AND DISPOSING OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

STORAGE:

Records are maintained on paper, microfilm, magnetic tape, disk, or laser optical media. In most cases, archival storage of the VistA data to backup tapes are maintained at off-site locations.

RETRIEVABILITY:

Records are retrieved by name, social security number or other assigned identifiers of the individuals on whom they are maintained.

SAFEGUARDS:

1. Access to VA working and storage areas is restricted to VA employees on a “need-to-know” basis. Strict physical security control measures are enforced to ensure that disclosure to these individuals is also based on this same principle. Generally, VA file areas are locked after normal duty hours and the facilities are protected from outside access by the Federal Protective Service or other security personnel.

2. Access to computer rooms at health care facilities and regional data processing centers is generally limited by appropriate locking devices and restricted to authorized VA employees and vendor personnel. Automated Data Processing (ADP) peripheral devices are placed in secure areas (areas that are locked or have limited access) or are otherwise protected. Information in VistA may be accessed by authorized VA employees. Access to file information is controlled at two levels. The systems recognize authorized employees by series of individually unique passwords/codes as a part of each data message, and the employees are limited to only that information in the file which is needed in the performance of their official duties. Information that is downloaded from VistA and maintained on laptops and other approved government equipment is afforded similar storage and access protections as the data that is maintained in the original files. Access to information stored on automated storage media at other VA locations is controlled by individually unique passwords/codes. Access by Office of Inspector General (OIG) staff conducting an audit, investigation, or inspection at the health care facility, or an OIG office location remote from the health care facility, is controlled in the same manner.

3. Information downloaded from VistA and maintained by the OIG headquarters and Field Offices on automated storage media is secured in storage areas for facilities to which only OIG staff have access. Paper documents are similarly secured. Access to paper documents and information on automated storage media is limited to OIG employees who have a need for the information in the performance of their official duties. Access to information stored on automated storage media is controlled by individually unique passwords/codes.

RETENTION AND DISPOSAL:

Paper records and information stored on electronic storage media are maintained and disposed of in accordance with records disposition authority approved by the Archivist of the United States, and VA policies and procedures for media sanitization.

SYSTEM MANAGER(S) AND ADDRESS:

The official responsible for policies and procedures is the Director, Health Data and Informatics (HDI) (19F), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20420.

NOTIFICATION PROCEDURE:

Individuals who wish to determine whether this system of records contains information about them should contact the VA facility location at which they are or were employed or made contact. Inquiries should include the person's full name, social security number, dates of employment, date(s) of contact, and return address.

RECORD ACCESS PROCEDURE:

Individuals seeking information regarding access to and contesting of records in this system may write, call or visit the VA facility location where they are or were employed or made contact.

CONTESTING RECORD PROCEDURES:

(See Record Access Procedures above.)

RECORD SOURCE CATEGORIES:

Information in this system of records is provided by the individual, supervisors, other employees, personnel records, or obtained from their interaction with the system.

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[FR Doc. 2010-1688 Filed 1-26-10; 8:45 am]

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