VA's New Computer System Has Potential To Protect Privacy of Individuals Claiming Benefits

HRD-78-135: Published: Jul 17, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 1978.

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The Veterans Administration (VA) is developing a computer system, known as the Target System, intended to modernize benefit claims service to veterans. It will provide immediate access to information concerning claims, status and amount of award checks, and information in the automated master records. Features to safeguard privacy have been developed for use in the system.

A potential trouble spot suggests the need for VA to establish standard operating procedures for identifying telephone requestors of information to prevent inadvertent disclosure to unauthorized parties. VA needs to more thoroughly assess risks of privacy violations to provide assurance that it has selected adequate but cost-effective safeguards. The VA Office of Inspector General should participate in the risk assessment including risks to financial data. When the system is fully developed, VA capabilities for reporting on benefit recipients could be more sophisticated. This would necessitate keeping the public fully informed about information released.

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