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Privacy Act of 1974

Congress passed the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (Privacy Act), to direct how an individual’s personally identifiable information (PII) may be collected, maintained, and used by a Federal agency. The Department of Defense (DoD), including all DoD Components, is subject to the Privacy Act. It provides individuals the right to access records about themselves and allows them to amend or correct information that is inaccurate, irrelevant, untimely, or incomplete. By passing the Privacy Act, Congress intended to balance the privacy rights of individuals with the Government’s need to collect and maintain information about them. The Privacy Act also provides both civil and criminal remedies for violations of the Privacy Act by a Federal agency or component.

The Privacy Act is codified at 5 U.S.C. 552a, and implemented within DoD and the Military Health System through DoDD 5400.11, DoD Privacy Program, May 8, 2007, incorporating Change 1, September 1, 2011, and DoD 5400.11-R, Department of Defense Privacy Program, May 14, 2007.

Privacy Act Basics

The Privacy Act regulates how DoD Components solicit and collect PII from individuals, and also sets forth requirements for the maintenance, use, and disclosure of such information.

The Privacy Act applies when a group of records maintained by a DoD Component contains PII, and that PII is retrieved by information unique to the individual whose PII is being retrieved. That same group of records, when maintained by a contractor on behalf of a DoD Component, is also subject to the Privacy Act.

Key Definitions (as found in DoD 5400.11-R, DL1., Definitions):

  • Record: One or more items of information maintained by a DoD Component that is about an individual and contains some identifying particular assigned to that individual, such as a name or photograph.
  • Personally identifiable information (PII): Information that can be linked to a specific individual and may include the following:
    • - Social Security Number;
    • - DoD Identification Number;
    • - Home address;
    • - Home telephone;
    • - Date of birth (year included);
    • - Personal medical information;
    • - Personal/Private information (e.g., an individual’s financial data); or
    • - Family information
    • .
  • System of records: A group of records, under the control of a DoD Component and containing PII, which is retrieved by information unique to that individual, such as a name or assigned number.

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) Privacy Act Program:

  • Provides guidance on the development of procedures that support DHA compliance with the Privacy Act, DoD 5400.11-R, and other guidelines.
  • Implements Privacy Act requirements throughout DHA, including the oversight of the development and use of the Privacy Act Statement required on forms (both paper and electronic) when PII is solicited and collected for a system of records.
  • Reviews DHA systems of records and coordinates the review and publication of required systems of records notices (SORNs) and SORN updates in the Federal Register.
“On October 1, 2013, the Department of Defense established the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to manage the activities of the Military Health System. These activities include those previously managed by TRICARE Management Activity (TMA), which was disestablished on the same date. During the next several months, all TMA websites will change to reflect the new DHA. We appreciate your patience during this transition."
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