GAO Releases Report on Privacy Protection

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report entitled “Sustained and Coordinated Efforts Could Facilitate Data Sharing While Protecting Privacy.” This report affirms that when different agencies share data, not only are administrative policies improved, services for individual clients are improved as well. Building on this, GAO looked at the different issues around privacy protection when doing this type of data sharing. Namely they looked at  (1) how selected states or localities have shared data across programs to improve the administration of human services, (2) challenges state and local human services agencies face in balancing privacy protections with greater data sharing, and (3) actions that the federal government could take to help address these challenges*.

Highlights* from this report include:

  • GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and policies, interviewed federal officials, conducted site visits with state or local human services agencies in four selected states, and surveyed 40 stakeholders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to identify challenges and possible federal actions.
  • GAO recommends that HHS ensure timely completion of its current work to clarify privacy requirements across programs, and OMB consider additional ways to disseminate useful data sharing practices and tools that address privacy requirements.
  • HHS agreed with our recommendation. OMB stated in its technical comments that it already had ongoing efforts to promote data sharing. GAO continues to believe that OMB should do more in this area to specifically address privacy issues within existing resources.

To view a copy of the complete report follow this link.

*Sustained and Coordinated Efforts Could Facilitate Data Sharing While Protecting Privacy.  February 28, 2013.*

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