FBI Taking Actions To Comply Fully With the Privacy Act

GGD-77-93: Published: Dec 26, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 26, 1977.

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Since the enactment of the Privacy Act of 1974, federal agencies have been required to report in the Federal Register all of their systems of records on individuals. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) central records system is the main system under which all investigative, personnel, administrative, and other records are kept. Information maintained by field offices and foreign liaison offices is sent to FBI headquarters to be included in the central records system. The FBI maintains a general index containing names for future retrieval and other card indexes, photo albums, control files, and computer listings.

As of March 1977, the FBI had reported 12 systems of records. Until April 1977, descriptions of the categories of people in the central records system were general and thus inadequate for public access. Now the notices in the Federal Register are more specific and provide a better basis for determining what files the FBI maintains. Information in some of the indexes could not be retrieved through any published system. The FBI keeps 239 special indexes, exclusive of 28 classified indexes. Sixty-three of the indexes at headquarters and the field offices contained information that was not fully retrievable; all indexes kept by the foreign liaison offices contained retrievable information.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should require the FBI Director to take one of the following actions with respect to indexes having nonretrievable information: make nonretrievable information on special indexes retrievable as part of a system of records already published in the Federal Register; publish a separate notice in the Federal Register for each nonretrievable special index; or destroy, when permissible, the information in special indexes that is not retrievable through a published system of records. He should also require the FBI Director to issue standard policies and procedures for establishing and handling special indexes to insure compliance with the Privacy Act.

    Agency Affected:


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