Telecommunications Privacy:

GSA's Planned FTS 2000 Telephone Record Controls Appear Reasonable

IMTEC-89-6: Published: Dec 23, 1988. Publicly Released: Jan 24, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the General Services Administration's (GSA) plans to provide privacy and security for users of the Federal Telecommunications System (FTS) 2000.

GAO found that GSA plans to: (1) provide security and privacy protection over FTS 2000 telephone call-detail records that is reasonable and consistent with the provisions of the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act; (2) limit the number of people handling call-detail data to safeguard against unauthorized access and unintentional disclosure; (3) restrict access to the computer systems that generate and maintain call-detail records; (4) conduct periodic audits of security compliance to ensure that the FTS 2000 contractor controls information access; and (5) provide other security measures to ensure the integrity of the call-detail record database. GAO also found that GSA: (1) established a committee to consider whether it should issue rules dealing with the privacy aspects of call-detail records; (2) contracted for a report on privacy and security arrangements regarding preparation and processing of FTS 2000 records; and (3) could implement, at the request of a customer and for a fee, a procedure to selectively search and strip data identifying called numbers from the call-detail records.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB worked with GSA and Justice on the Federal Telecommunications Privacy Advisory Committee to review the policies for protecting and releasing call-detail records. However, an OMB official responsible for the area does not foresee further actions on this recommendation.

    Recommendation: In order to establish the basis for a policy on the releasability of call-detail data appropriate to the circumstances of FTS 2000, the Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB): (1) as part of the responsibilities under the Privacy Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act, should review the extent to which telephone call-detail records should be protected from disclosure and the circumstances under which they should be released; and (2) with the assistance of GSA and the Department of Justice, should explore various alternatives and, if applicable, propose legislation or issue clarifying guidance for the treatment of such records.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget


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