SORN 09-90-0020

System name: Suitability for Employment Records, HHS/OS/ASPER.

Security classification: None.

System location: Personnel Offices listed in “Applicants for Employment Records'' HHS System 09-90-0006, Appendix I.

Categories of individuals covered by the system: Employees of the Department and applicants for employment.

Categories of records in the system: This system consists of a variety of records relating to an individual's suitability for employment in terms of character, reputation and fitness, including letters of reference, and responses to pre-employment inquiries. National Agency Checks and inquiries material received from the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems

Protection Board and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel relating to non-sensitive positions, qualifications and character investigations, and other information which may relate to the suitability of the individual for the position.

Authority for maintenance of the system: 5 U.S.C. 3301, 3302, 7301; Executive Order 10577; Executive Order 11222.


Records in this system are used by the designated appointing and selecting authorities to make determinations concerning the individual's suitability for employment. These records are maintained at ASPER, OPDIV Headquarters and field offices, and Regional Personnel Offices.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such use:

1. Information in these records may be used by the Office of Personnel Management, Merit Systems Protection Board, U.S. Office of Special Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Federal Labor Relations Authority (including the General Counsel of the Authority and the Federal Service Impasses Panel) in carrying out their functions.

2. In the event that this system of records indicates a violation or potential violation of law, whether civil, criminal or regulatory in nature, and whether arising by general statute or particular program statute, or by regulation, rule or order issued pursuant thereto, the relevant records in the system of records may be referred, as a routine use, to the appropriate agency, whether federal, state, local, or foreign, charged with the responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation or charged with enforcing or implementing the statute, or rule, regulation or order issued pursuant thereto.

3. In the event the Department deems it desirable or necessary in determining whether particular records are required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, disclosure may be made to the Department of Justice for the purpose of obtaining its advice.

4. A record from this system of records may be disclosed as a “routine use'' to a federal, state or local agency maintaining civil, criminal or other relevant enforcement records or other pertinent records, such as current licenses, if necessary to obtain a record relevant to an agency decision concerning the hiring or retention of an employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit.

A record from this system of records may be disclosed to a federal agency, in response to its request, in connection with the hiring or retention of an employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the reporting of an investigation of an employee, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit by the requesting agency, to the extent that the record is relevant and necessary to the requesting agency's decision on the matter.

5. When federal agencies having the power to subpoena other federal agencies' records, such as the Internal Revenue Service or the Civil Rights Commission, issue a subpoena to the Department for records in this system of records, the Department will make such records available.

6. When a contract between a component of the Department and a labor organization recognized under 5 U.S.C. Chapter 71 provides that the agency will disclose personal records relevant to the organization's mission, records in this system of records may be disclosed to such organization.

7. The Department contemplates that it will contract with a private firm for the purpose of collating, analyzing, aggregating or otherwise refining records in this system. Relevant records will be disclosed to such a contractor. The contractor shall be required to maintain Privacy Act safeguards with respect to such records.

8. Disclosure may be made to a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to an inquiry from the congressional office made at the request of that individual.

9. In the event of litigation where the defendant is (a) the Department, any component of the Department, or any employee of the Department in his other official capacity; (b) the United States where the Department determines that the claim, if successful, is likely to directly affect the operations of the Department or any of its components; or (c) any Department employee in his or her individual capacity where the Justice Department has agreed to represent such employee, the Department may disclose such records as it deems desirable or necessary to the Department of Justice to enable that Department to present an effective defense, provided such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were collected.

10. Records may be disclosed to student volunteers, individuals working under a personal services contract, and other individuals performing functions for the Department but technically not having the status of agency employees, if they need access to the records in

order to perform their assigned agency functions.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system:

Storage: Records are maintained in file folders and in electronic form.

Retrievability: Records are indexed by any combination of name, date of birth, Social Security Number, or identification number.


1. Authorized Users: Data in electronic form are accessed by passwords known only to those whose official duties require access.

2. Physical Safeguards: File cabinets and rooms where records are stored are locked when not in use. During regular business hours, rooms are unlocked but are controlled by on-site personnel.

3. Procedural and Technical Safeguards: A password is required to access files maintained in electronic form. Passwords are changed frequently. All users of the information (see Authorized Users, above) protect information from public view and from unauthorized personnel entering an unsupervised office.

These practices are in compliance with the standards of Chapter 45-13 of the HHS General Administration Manual, “Safeguarding Records Contained in Systems of Records,'' and the Department's Automated Information System Security Program Handbook, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS Pub. 41 and FIPS Pub. 31).

Retention and disposal: Records from the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel concerning applicants for or incumbents of nonsensitive positions, are retained until a decision is reached on whether to hire or retain the applicant or incumbent, and are then destroyed. Other records in this system are retained until there is no further administrative need for them, the individual leaves the Department, or

three years have elapsed, whichever is later, and are then destroyed. Paper copies are destroyed by shredding. Computer files are destroyed by deleting the record from the file.

System manager(s) and address: Heads of personnel offices which service organizational units in which the individual is employed or in which he/she applied for employment. See Applicants For Employment Records, HHS, System 09-90-0006, Appendix 1.

Notification procedures: To determine if a record exists, write to the System Manager as indicated above. The requester must verify his or her identity by providing either a notarization of the request or a written certification that the requester is who he or she claims to be. The request should include the requester's name, date of birth, and organization in which employed or to which he or she applied for employment. The requester must understand that knowing and willful request for a record pertaining to an individual under false pretenses is a criminal offense under the Act, subject to a five thousand dollar fine.

Record access procedures: To obtain access to records, write to the System Manager as indicated above to obtain access to records and provide the same information as is required under the Notification Procedures. Requesters should reasonably specify the record contents being sought. Individuals may also request an accounting of disclosure of their records, if any.

Contesting record procedures: Records that contain information that is inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant may be contested. To contest such information, individuals should contact the System Manager specified above. They should reasonably identify the record, specify the information contested, the corrective action sought, and state their reasons for requesting the correction, along with supporting information to show how the record is inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or irrelevant.

Record source categories: Information contained in the system is obtained from:

a. Applications and other personnel and security forms furnished by the individual.

b. Information furnished by other Federal agencies.

b. Information provided by sources such an employers, schools, references, former employers.

Systems exempted from certain provisions of the act: Individuals will be provided information from the above system except when in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(5):

1. disclosure of such information would reveal the identity of a source who furnished information to the Government under an express promise that the identity of the source would be held in confidence; or

2. if the information was obtained prior to the effective date of section 3, Pub. L. 93-579, disclosure of such information would reveal the identity of a source who provided information under an implied promise that the identity of the source would be held in confidence. (45 CFR 5b.11.)

Content created by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Division
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