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Office of Privacy and Records Management



1. What is Privacy?

The legislation under which the department operates authorizes the collection of personal information in order to provide you (and, where relevant, third parties) with services and to ensure that you are paid correctly and receive the services to which you are entitled. You have a right to have your personal information kept private. The department is bound by strict confidentiality and secrecy provisions in social security, families, health, child support and disability services law. These provisions limit how the department uses your information and when and to whom it can be released.

Privacy can mean many things from the right to be left alone to the right to have some control over how your personal or health information is properly collected, stored, used or released.

2. What is records management?

Records management is the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved with respect to records creation, maintenance, use, and disposition in order to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government and effective and economical management of agency operations. (44 U.S.C. 2901)

Records management addresses the life cycle of records, i.e., the period of time that records are in the custody of Federal agencies. The life cycle usually consists of three stages:

  • Creation of the records necessary to document the activities,
  • Filing those records in a manner that allows for them to be safely stored and efficiently retrieved when necessary, and
  • Disposal of records in accordance with Agency and Federal regulations.

Tools for maintaining and using records include file plans, indexes, controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, data dictionaries, access and security procedures. The main tool used to manage the disposition of records is the records control schedule.

3. What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s Sensitive Personal Information (SPI) to commit, aid or abet fraud (Source: FACTA, 2003). For more information on identity theft and prevention, go to VA’s “More Than a Number” Website.