May 05, 2000
IRS Privacy Impact Assessment Endorsed as
Government-Wide Best Practice
WASHINGTON - An Internal Revenue Service procedure for evaluating
taxpayer and employee privacy issues in records systems has been endorsed as a
government-wide “best practice.”
The IRS is a strong advocate for privacy rights and strives to limit and control
the use of confidential taxpayer information as well as to protect public and official
access. The Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) was created by the IRS’s Office of
the Privacy Advocate in 1995 to better ensure the confidentiality, integrity and
privacy of taxpayer information. The Chief Information Officers Council, an
interagency forum for improving government information technology practices,
recently adopted the PIA as a best privacy practice.
The PIA provides a methodology for identifying and evaluating privacy issues
during the development of any records system. It is an extension of the Privacy Act
of 1974 and the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-130, which provides
instructions to federal agencies on how to comply with fair information practices in
their operation of information processes.
The PIA review requires data owners, in conjunction with information
technology personnel, to identify and address privacy issues and is part of the
record system's certification requirement. The process was established to minimize
intrusiveness, maximize fairness and satisfy expectations of taxpayer confidentiality
to the greatest extent possible by limiting the amount of privacy-sensitive
information to only what is necessary to carry out a particular agency need.
Officials at the FBI have already implemented the PIA process. Other federal
agencies, public interest groups, educational institutions, private sector businesses
and two foreign governments have also obtained copies of the PIA.
An electronic copy of the PIA may be requested from the Office of the IRS
Privacy Advocate at (202) 283-7750 and will soon be available on the IRS Web site
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