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Highlights

Advances in information technology make it easier than ever for the federal government to obtain and process personal information about citizens and residents in many ways and for many purposes. To ensure that the privacy rights of individuals are respected, this information must be properly protected in accordance with current law, particularly the Privacy Act and the E-Government Act of 2002. These laws prescribe specific activities that agencies must perform to protect privacy, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has developed guidance on how and in what circumstances agencies are to carry out these activities. Many agencies designate officials as focal points for privacy-related matters, and increasingly, many have created senior positions, such as chief privacy officer, to assume primary responsibility for privacy policy, as well as dedicated privacy offices. GAO was asked to testify on key challenges facing agency privacy officers. To address this issue, GAO identified and summarized issues raised in its previous reports on privacy.

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