SORN 09-20-0166

System Name: Vital Statistics for Births, Deaths, Fetal Deaths, Marriages and Divorces Occurring in the United States during Each Year, HHS/OASH/NCHS.

Security Classification: None.

System Location(s): National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, Presidential Building, Rm. 1140, 6525 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782.

Categories of Individuals Covered by the System: Individuals who are born and their parents; individuals who die; individuals who are married or divorced; and parents experiencing fetal deaths.

Categories of Records in the System: The records include microfilm images of State records or machine-readable data prepared by the State from records collected under the laws of each State for births, deaths, fetal deaths, marriages and divorces. The records contain the demographic characteristics of individuals associated with each event. In addition, the birth records include information on the characteristics of each live birth, the health status of the infant, and socioeconomic characteristics of the parents. The death records contain medical information relating to cause of death and to socioeconomic characteristics of the deceased; the fetal death record contains medical information relating to cause of death and socioeconomic characteristics of the parents. Marriages and divorces include demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of both parties to the event and legal information regarding the event.

Periodically the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) conducts followback surveys, collecting information on random samples of births and deaths through mail questionnaires. The content of questionnaires for the followback surveys varies. Past surveys have collected information on such topics as hospital utilization in the last year of life, smoking habits of the deceased, health status of infants, and pregnancy and employment histories of mothers.

Lists of names and other identifying information in the system are provided to NCHS by individuals and organizations who for health research purposes seek to have them matched against files of decedents in order to identify State death records.

Authority for Maintenance of the System: Public Health Service Act, section 306(h) (42 U.S.C. 242k.)

Purpose(s): The data are used for statistical purposes only. Uses within the Department include the preparation of aggregated data in the form of statistical tables for publication, analysis, and interpretation, to meet the legislative mandates of 42 U.S.C 242k, i.e., to determine the extent and nature of illness and disability of the population of the U.S., including life expectancy and levels of infant and maternal mortality, environmental and other health hazards, trends in family formation, growth, and dissolution, and other related matters. The followback surveys are designed primarily to expand the scope of data that NCHS can collect from the national registration system, to make the registration system more responsive to changing needs for data, and to evaluate the quality of data collected on the birth and death records.

Routine Uses of Records Maintained in the System, Including Categories of Users and the Purposes of such Uses: The processed data are disseminated for public use in forms that do not permit identification of individuals, such as published statistical tables, special unpublished tabulations, and public use computer tapes, which carry no individual identifiers. They are used by members of Congress and their staffs, other executive branch agencies, state and city governments, public and private research institutions, life insurance companies, faculty and students of universities, physicians, workers in health information, newspaper reporters and feature writers, etc. The findings are used to make determinations on needs for legislation, appropriations, and programs in the health field; to pinpoint health problems, measure progress of national health programs, and make population estimates; for epidemiological studies, marketing research, sociological studies, and studies of the family; and for other research directed at understanding our society.

Policies and Practices for Storing, Retrieving, Accessing, Retaining, and Disposing of Records in the System—

Storage: Paper files and magnetic tapes.

Retrievability: Some States submit microfilm copies of certificates of birth, death, fetal death, marriage, and divorce, and statistics are extracted from them. These microfilms contain individual identifiers; they are the only individually identified records in the system. Other States submit vital statistics data on magnetic tape, showing only a State file number for each case but no personal identifiers.

Safeguards: Measures to prevent unauthorized disclosures are implemented as appropriate for the particular records maintained. NCHS and its contractors implement personnel, physical, and procedural safeguards as follows:

1. Authorized users: Persons authorized and needing to use the records, including project directors, contract officers, interviewers, analysts, statisticians, statistical clerks, and data entry personnel on the staffs of the Center and the contractors.

2. Physical safeguards: The manual portions of the records are stored in locked files or offices when not in use. (The automated portions of the records do not contain individually identifiable data. Because they are not subject to the Privacy Act, descriptions of the computer safeguards used are not included in this notice.) Access to the buildings in which the manual records are stored is controlled by special entry devices and 24-hour security guards.

3. Procedural safeguards: All employees of NCHS and contractor personnel with access to NCHS records are required, as a condition of employment, to sign an affidavit binding them to nondisclosure of individually identifiable information; periodic training sessions are conducted to reinforce the confidentiality restrictions.

Contractors who maintain records in the system are instructed to make no further disclosure of the records. Privacy Act requirements are specifically included in contracts for survey and research activities related to this system. The HHS project directors, contract officers, and project officers oversee compliance with these requirements.

These safeguards are in accordance with chapter 45-13, "Safeguarding Records Contained in Systems of Records," of the HHS General Administration Manual; supplementary chapter PHS.hf: 45-13; the National Bureau of Standards Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS Pub. 41 and FIPS Pub. 312); and the NCHS Staff Manual on Confidentiality.

Retention and Disposal: The microfilm copies of the individually identifiable records are retained in office files of NCHS until the process of conversion to magnetic tape and verification of information is completed. The death records are sent to the Federal Records Center ten years after tabulation for deaths occurring during the three year period surrounding census years and one year after tabulation for other years. They are held until disposed of, 15 years after tabulation for deaths of the censal years, and five years after tabulation for other years. Records of births, fetal deaths, marriages, and divorces are disposed of two years after tabulation. The questionnaires for the followback surveys are destroyed after conversion to magnetic tape, tabulation, and analyses have been completed.

System Manager(s) and Address(es): Director, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, Presidential Building, Rm. 1140, 6525 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782.

Notification Procedure: To determine if a record exists, write to the System Manager at the above address.

Record Access Procedures: Access to record systems which have been granted an exemption from the Privacy Act access requirement may be made at the discretion of the System Manager. Positive identification is required from anyone seeking access. Appeal of access refusal may be made to the Director, Office of Management, Public Health Service. An individual may also request an accounting of disclosures of his/her record, if any.

Contesting Record Procedures: If access has been granted, contact the System Manager and reasonably identify the record, specify the information being contested, and state the corrective action sought with supporting information to show how the record is inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant.

Record Source Categories: Vital statistics records are obtained from State vital statistics offices, or, in rare instances, from other State or county repositories of marriage or divorce data. Information in followback surveys is obtained from hospitals, physicians, or relatives of the infants or the deceased.

Systems Exempted from Certain Provisions of the Act: With respect to this system of records, exemption has been granted from the requirements contained in subsections 552a(c)(3), (d)(1) through (4), and (e)(4)(G) and (H), in accordance with the provision of subsection 552a(k)(4) of the Privacy Act of 1974. The reason that the system has been exempted is that this system contains only records required by statute to be maintained and used solely as statistical records. The exemption was published in the Federal Register, October 8, 1975, page 47413.

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