Privacy Program

The Privacy Act balances the Government’s need to maintain information about individuals with the rights of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy.

The Peace Corps has moved to 1275 First Street, Washington DC 20526.  All Peace Corps System of Records, Information Collection Requests (ICRs), and Program Managers for IT systems with Personally Identifiable Information will be at the new headquarters address by November 5, 2019.  The Privacy Act Office will publish a notice of change for all Peace Corps System of Records in the Federal Register, in accordance with OMB Circular A-108.  Please address any questions about this Privacy update to Virginia Burke, Privacy Act Officer, at [email protected] or [email protected]

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Privacy Act Introduction

The Privacy Act of 1974 is a Federal law that is set forth in Title 5, Section 552a, of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. 552a), as amended. The purpose of the Privacy Act is to balance the Government’s need to maintain information about individuals with the rights of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy resulting from the collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information. In general, the Privacy Act focuses on four basic policy objectives:

  • To restrict disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by agencies;
  • To grant individuals increased rights of access to agency records maintained on them;
  • To grant individuals the right to seek amendment of agency records maintained on them upon showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete, and,
  • To establish a code of “fair information practices” which requires agencies to comply with statutory norms for collection, maintenance, and dissemination of records.

The Privacy Act applies only to U.S. citizens and aliens who are lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. It applies only to personal information maintained by agencies in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

The Privacy Act pertains only to information that is maintained in a “system of records,” which the Act defines as a group of agency-controlled records from which information is retrieved by a unique identifier, such as an individual’s name, date of birth, social security number, or employee identification number. The Privacy Act further defines a “record” as any individually identifiable set of information that an agency might maintain about a person. Such records may include a wide variety of personal information including, but not limited to, information about education, financial transactions, medical history, criminal history, or employment history. However, the Privacy Act explicitly states that agencies may not maintain information about how individuals exercise their First Amendment rights, unless maintenance of that information is specifically authorized by statute, by the individual about whom the record is maintained, or relates to a law enforcement activity.


Exemptions to the Privacy Act

There are two general and seven specific exemptions in the Privacy Act. The two general exemptions cover:

  • All records maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency (not applicable to PEACE CORPS).
  • Selected records maintained by an agency or component thereof which performs as its principal functions any activity pertaining to the enforcement of criminal laws (only used by PEACE CORPS’s Office of the Inspector General).

In addition, the Privacy Act provides seven specific exemptions:

  1. Information that is properly classified in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.
  2. Investigatory material compiled for law enforcement purposes not covered by the general exemptions. The specific law enforcement exemption is limited when—as a result of the maintenance of the records—an individual is denied any right, privilege, or benefit to which he or she would be entitled by Federal law or for which he or she would otherwise be entitled. In such cases, disclosure is required except where it would reveal the identity of a confidential source who furnished information to the Government under an express promise that the identity of the source would be held in confidence.
  3. Information maintained in connection with providing protective services to the President of the United States or other individuals who receive protection from the Secret Service.
  4. Information required by statute to be maintained and used solely as statistical records.
  5. Investigatory material compiled solely for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or qualifications for Federal civilian employment, military service, Federal contracts, or access to classified information, but only to the extent that the disclosure of such material 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.
  6. Testing or examination material used solely to determine individual qualifications for appointment or promotion in the Federal Service, but only to the extent that the disclosure of such material would compromise the objectivity or fairness of the testing or examination process.
  7. Evaluation material used to determine potential for promotion in the armed services, but only to the extent that the disclosure of such material 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.


File a Privacy Complaint

We take your privacy seriously, and have created a process by which you can formally file a complaint with our Chief Privacy Officer.

Privacy complaints we can help with

We accept written complaints about:

  • How the PEACE CORPS collects or uses personal information;
  • How, when, and with whom the PEACE CORPS shares personal information;
  • The type(s) and/or amount of personal information the PEACE CORPS collects; and
  • Any other concern(s) you may have about how the PEACE CORPS handles personal information and/or its impact(s) on personal privacy.

Complaints about the privacy of a business entity, a corporation, or any entity other than a person are not covered by our privacy complaint procedures.

Please keep in mind that Privacy Act requests for access, amendment, or correction are not privacy complaints – filing a complaint does not negate or replace your right to seek judicial relief under the Privacy Act or other federal laws for violations of individual privacy rights.

Submit a privacy complaint

To submit a complaint, you can write a letter that includes:

  • Your name
  • A summary of your complaint or a written description of the specific circumstances
  • A summary of other steps taken, if any, by you or the PEACE CORPS to resolve this complaint
  • A preferred method of contact about your complaint – a mailing address, telephone number, email address or fax number

Send us the letter by email ([email protected]) or regular mail:

Peace Corps
Attention: Privacy Officer
1275 First Street
Washington, DC 20526

Evaluation procedure

  • We will send you an acknowledgement letter within 5 business days of our receipt of your complaint.
  • We will review and categorize the complaint as: Process and procedural, redress, operational or referral (we will refer it to the right office or federal agency if we’re not the right ones to address the issue).
  • The Chief Privacy Officer will recommend any necessary actions in response to the complaint. We’ll let you know once your complaint is closed and, in general, include what, if any, action we’re taking in response to the complaint.

Our goal is to review and close complaints within 20 business days. For complaints that we’ll need more than the normal time to close, we’ll contact you to give a status update


Peace Corps Routine Uses

PEACE CORPS GENERAL ROUTINE USES APPLICABLE TO MORE THAN ONE SYSTEM OF RECORDS [PDF]

The Privacy Act 5 U.S.C. 552a (7) states “the term ‘routine use’ means, with respect to the disclosure of a record, the use of such record for a purpose which is compatible with the purpose for which it was collected”. Each agency that maintains a system of records will declare its routine uses and identify which are applicable to a specific system of records, per 5 USC 552a (e)(4)(D).

OMB Circular A-108* states “routine use is a particular kind of disclosure of a record outside of the agency maintaining the system of records...Routine uses shall be narrowly tailored to address a specific and appropriate use of the records.” The Peace Corps has published the following list of routine uses:

*OMB Circular A-108, “Federal Agency Responsibilities for Review, Reporting, and Publication under the Privacy Act,” reissued December 23, 2016.

A. Disclosure for Law Enforcement Purposes. Information may be disclosed to the appropriate Federal, State, local, or foreign agency responsible for investigating, prosecuting, enforcing, or implementing a statute, rule, regulation, or order, if the information indicates a violation or potential violation of civil or criminal law or regulation within the jurisdiction of the receiving entity.

B. Disclosure Incident to Requesting Information. Information may be disclosed to any source from which additional information is requested (to the extent necessary to identify the individual, inform the source of the purpose(s) of the request, or to identify the type of information requested); when necessary to obtain information relevant to a Peace Corps decision concerning retention of an employee or other personnel action (other than hiring), retention of a security clearance, the letting of a contract, or the issuance or retention of a grant or other benefit.

C. Disclosure to Requesting Agency. Information may be disclosed to a Federal, State, local, or other public authority of the fact that this system of records contains information relevant to the requesting agency's retention of an employee, the retention of a security clearance, the letting of a contract, or the issuance or retention of a license, grant, or other benefit. The other agency or licensing organization may then make a request supported by the written consent of the individual for part or all of the record if it so chooses. No disclosure will be made unless the information has been determined to be sufficiently reliable to support a referral to another office within the agency or to another Federal agency for criminal, civil, administrative, personnel, or regulatory action.

D. Disclosure to Office of Management and Budget. Information may be disclosed to the Office of Management and Budget at any stage in the legislative coordination and clearance process in connection with private relief legislation as set forth in OMB Circular No. A-19.

E. Disclosure to Congressional Offices. Information may be disclosed to a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to an inquiry from the congressional office made at the request of the individual.

F. Disclosure to Department of Justice. Information may be disclosed for purposes of litigation, provided that in each case the disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were collected. Disclosure for these purposes may be made to the Department of Justice, or in a proceeding before a court, adjudicative body, or other administrative body before which the Peace Corps is authorized to appear. This disclosure may be made when: 1. The Peace Corps, or any component thereof; 2. Any employee of the Peace Corps in his or her official capacity; 3. Any employee of the Peace Corps in his or her individual capacity where the Department of Justice or the Peace Corps has agreed to represent the employee; or 4. The United States (when the Peace Corps determines that litigation is likely to affect the Peace Corps or any of its components) is a party to litigation or has an interest in such litigation, and the use of such records by the Department of Justice or the Peace Corps is deemed by the Peace Corps to be relevant and necessary to the litigation.

G. Disclosure to the National Archives. Information may be disclosed to the National Archives and Records Administration in records management inspections.

H. Disclosure to Contractors, Grantees, and Others. Information may be disclosed to contractors, grantees, consultants, or Volunteers performing or working on a contract, service, grant, cooperative agreement, job, or other activity for the Peace Corps and who have a need to have access to the information in the performance of their duties or activities for the Peace Corps. When appropriate, recipients will be required to comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974 as provided in 5 U.S.C. 552a(m).

I. Disclosures for Administrative Claims, Complaints, and Appeals. Information may be disclosed to an authorized appeal grievance examiner, formal complaints examiner, equal employment opportunity investigator, arbitrator, or other person properly engaged in investigation or settlement of an administrative grievance, complaint, claim, or appeal filed by an employee, but only to the extent that the information is relevant and necessary to the proceeding. Agencies that may obtain information under this routine use include, but are not limited to, the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Special Counsel, Merit Systems Protection Board, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Equal Employment Commission, and Office of Government Ethics.

J. Disclosure to the Office of Personnel Management. Information may be disclosed to the Office of Personnel Management pursuant to that agency's responsibility for evaluation and oversight of Federal personnel management.

K. Disclosure in Connection with Litigation. Information may be disclosed in connection with litigation or settlement discussions regarding claims by or against the Peace Corps, including public filing with a court, to the extent that disclosure of the information is relevant and necessary to the litigation or discussions and except where court orders are otherwise required under Section (b)(11) of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(11).

L. Disclosure to U.S. Ambassadors. Information from this system of records may be disclosed to a U.S. Ambassador or his or her designee in a country where the Peace Corps serves when the information is needed to perform an official responsibility, to allow the Ambassador to knowledgeably respond to official inquiries and deal with in- country situations that are within the scope of the Ambassador's responsibility.

M. Disclosure to all appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when (1) The Peace Corps suspects or has confirmed that the security or confidentiality of information in the system of records has been compromised; (2) the Peace Corps has determined that suspected or confirmed compromise there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of this system or other systems or programs (whether maintained by the Peace Corps or another agency or entity) that rely upon the compromised information; and (3) the disclosure made to such agencies, entities, and persons is reasonably necessary to assist in connection with the Peace Corps’ efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm.

N. Disclosure to any individual that requests public information about a Peace Corps Volunteer/Trainee. Public information about a Volunteer/Trainee is considered to be the name, country of service and dates of service for current and former [Returned] Volunteers/Trainees. Requests for public information will be processed thorough the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office.


System of Records Notices (SORNs)

Document citation System name Effective date
78 FR 25489 PC-34 - Volunteer/Trainee Sexual Misconduct Complaint Files 06/10/2013
76 FR 77575 PC-21 - Peace Corps Response Database 01/27/2012
75 FR 53000 PC-17 - Peace Corps, Volunteer Applicant and Service Records System 10/14/2010
74 FR 131 PC-33 - Consolidated Incident Reporting System (CIRS) 02/17/2009
73 FR 59685 PC-10 - Office of Private Sector Initiatives Database 11/24/2008
70 FR 57630 PC-27 - Antimalarial Tolerance Survey - Correction 10/03/2005
70 FR 55929 PC-28 - Applications for Employment 07/26/2005
69 FR 42784 PC-26 - Antimalaria Tolerance Survey 07/26/2004
67 FR 49048 PC-26 - Peace Corps Computer Systems Activity and Access Records 09/09/2002
65 FR 63641 Notice of change of effective date and additional modifications to proposed systems of records: Modify nineteen systems of records and add six new systems of records --
65 FR 53772 Notice of modifications to existing systems of records and the establishment of new systems of records: Proposal to modify nineteen systems of records and add six new systems of records 10/23/2000