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Defense Privacy Board Advisory Opinions
PRIVACY ACT ADVISORY STATEMENTS FOR INSPECTOR GENERAL COMPLAINT FORMS
Under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(3), a Privacy Act advisory statement is required for Inspector General complaint forms. The agency does not initiate a request for information from an individual, but asks for certain information in order only to respond to a complaint which was initiated voluntarily by an individual. Taking action based on information volunteered by an individual does not eliminate the need for a Privacy Act advisory statement.
Implicit in providing a Privacy Act advisory statement is the notion of informed consent. An individual should be provided sufficient advice about a request for information to make an informed decision about whether or not to respond. See Office of Management and Budget Privacy Act Guidelines, 40 Fed. Reg. 28949, 28961 (July 9, 1975). The intent of the Privacy Act is to advise individuals requested to provide information about themselves for a system of records about the authority for collecting the information, the uses to be made of it, whether it is voluntary or mandatory to provide it, and the consequences of not providing it. Whenever an agency asks individuals for information about themselves for a system of records, a Privacy Act advisory statement must be provided. There is no difference between an Inspector General complaint which triggers a request for information and a medical form completed only after an individual voluntarily initiates a request for treatment. All agencies have determined that all medical forms require Privacy Act advisory statements.