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The Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOI/PA) offices supports individual privacy rights in regard to the collection and re-dissemination of all information gathered during the investigative process. OPM-FIS maintains a record of all background investigations which is governed by our systems notice, OPM-Central 9, as published in the Federal Register. Dissemination of OPM-FIS background investigations is done in accordance with The Freedom of Information Act [5 U.S. Code, 552], The Privacy Act of 1974 [5 U.S. Code 552(a)], Privacy Procedures for Personnel Records [5 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 297], and/or Availability of Official Information [5 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 294].
The primary duties of the FOI/PA office include:
The purpose of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOI/PA) is to regulate the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personal information by Federal Executive Branch agencies. Generally speaking, the Act prohibits the disclosure of records contained in a system of records without the written request or consent of the individual to whom the records pertain, unless a condition of disclosure is met or the release is covered by a routine use of the System of Records Notice (SORN) for the system.
Background investigations are maintained in the OPM Personnel Investigations Records System, covered by the OPM/Central-9 SORN.
The OPM/Central-9 system of records includes investigative information regarding an individual's:
Individuals requesting access to their own background investigations should submit a written request to: FOI/PA office, OPM-FIS, PO Box 618, Boyers, PA 16018-0618. The request can also be faxed to 724-794-4590. The request should state that "the information is being requested pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974." The requester is required to provide the following:
A record may be disclosed to a representative of the individual to whom the record pertains. In order for a representative to obtain records, OPM-FIS requires written authorization from the individual to whom the records pertain for the representative to act on their behalf. The written authorization must also include an original notarized statement or an unsworn declaration in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 1746, in the following format: I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. The unsworn declaration must include the date the declaration was executed and the subject's signature.
Individuals may request, in writing, the amendment of their record(s) maintained in our System of Records. In order for us to process such a request, the individual is required to provide:
The amendment request should include the following
Requests for amendment of records should include the words "PRIVACY ACT AMENDMENT REQUEST" in capital letters on both the envelope and at the top of the request letter.
The burden of proof demonstrating the appropriateness of the requested amendment rests with the requester. The requester must provide relevant and convincing evidence in support of the request.
The amendment procedures are not intended to allow a challenge to material that records an event that actually occurred nor are they designed to permit a collateral attack upon that which has been or could have been the subject of a judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative proceeding. The amendment procedures are also not designed to change opinions in records pertaining to the individual.
The amendment procedures do apply to situations when an occurrence that is documented was challenged through an established judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative procedure and found to be inaccurately described; when the document is not identical to the individual's copy; or when the document is not created in accordance with the applicable recordkeeping requirements.
Please see 5 CFR 297 for additional information regarding OPM's Privacy Procedures for Personnel Records. for additional information regarding OPM's Privacy Procedures for Personnel Records
Dissemination of files within an agency:
When not in use, personnel investigations must be stored in a combination locked-cabinet or safe, or in an equally secure area. Access to the cases should be limited only to the Security Officer and approved staff, who shall not have access to their own files.
Our investigative files may contain other agency reports; however approval should be obtained from the originating agency if the data in that report is needed to propose an adverse action.
When proposing adverse action, agencies may provide subjects with excerpts or summaries of the information contained in the OPM Report of Investigation, but not with a complete copy of the investigation itself. The agency may not release information that:
Agencies can contact the FIS Freedom of Information and Privacy Act office for a sanitized copy of the investigative file for use in an adverse action. A written request on agency letterhead can be submitted to: OPM-FIS, FOI/PA office, P.O. Box 618, Boyers, PA 16018-0618 or faxed to 724-794-4590. The request should include the Case Number, subject's name, and an address to where the information should be sent. The request should also state that a sanitized copy is needed for use in an adverse action.
This Act gives you the right to request access to federal agency records or information. All U.S. government agencies are required to disclose agency records to the public unless the records are protected by one or more of the FOIA's nine exemptions or three exclusions. The nine exemption categories that authorize government agencies to withhold information are:
The three exclusions are rarely used and pertain to particularly sensitive law enforcement and national security matters.
This Act requires that certain records be made available without requiring a FOIA request. Such records include:
Please see 5 CFR 294 for additional information regarding OPM's regulations for the Availability of Official Information.
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