36 CFR § 1256.28 - Does NARA make any exceptions for access to records containing privacy-restricted information?

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§ 1256.28 Does NARA make any exceptions for access to records containing privacy-restricted information?

(a) NARA policy. Access to archival records containing information access to which would invade the privacy of an individual is restricted by § 1256.56.

(1) NARA may authorize access to such records for the purpose of research to qualified persons doing biomedical or social science research under the conditions outlined in this section as long as the records do not also contain information restricted by statute or national security-classified information.

(2) If NARA is able to make a copy of such records with all personal identifiers masked or deleted, NARA will make such a “sanitized” copy of the record available to all researchers in accordance with § 1256.24.

(3) NARA will not grant access to restricted census and survey records of the Bureau of the Census less than 72 years old containing data identifying individuals enumerated in population censuses in accordance with 44 U.S.C. 2108(b).

(b) Request for access. Researchers who wish to have access to records restricted by § 1256.56 to conduct biomedical or social science research must submit a written request to the NARA FOIA/Privacy Act Officer (NGC), National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. OMB control number 3095-0002 has been assigned to this collection of information requirement. Researchers are encouraged to consult informally with NARA before submitting the formal request. The request must include the following information:

(1) Name and mailing address;

(2) Institutional affiliation and position, if applicable;

(3) List of published research, if applicable;

(4) References from two persons who have first-hand knowledge of the requester's qualifications to perform the research;

(5) A statement of the nature of the research to be conducted and any plans for publication or presentation of the research findings;

(6) A listing of all sources of grant funds supporting the research project or its publication;

(7) A statement of the methodology to be used;

(8) A statement of the administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to be employed by the researcher to prevent unauthorized use or disclosure of the records;

(9) A listing of the record groups and series titles to be used; and

(10) A statement that the researcher will abide by the conditions of access to be prescribed by NARA and that the researcher will assume responsibility for the action of all persons working with the researcher on the project.

(c) Access Review Committee. Requests made under paragraph (b) of this section will be reviewed by NARA's Access Review Committee, which is composed of the Deputy Archivist of the United States, the Assistant Archivist for the Office of Records Services - Washington, DC, the Assistant Archivist for the Official of Regional Records Services, and the director(s) of the NARA division(s) that has custody of the requested records. The Committee may consult other persons within and outside the Federal Government who are knowledgeable in the research field for assistance in evaluating a request.

(1) The Committee will examine the request to determine whether:

(i) The requested information is of such a highly sensitive personal nature that disclosure must not be permitted even for biomedical or social science research;

(ii) The methodology proposed by the requester will permit the researcher to obtain the projected research results without revealing personally identifying information;

(iii) The research results are intended to be published or presented at an academic or research conference;

(iv) The requester is a biomedical or social science researcher who has previous research experience and has submitted or intends to submit articles or books on such research for publication;

(v) The safeguards proposed by the requester will adequately protect the personal information; and

(vi) NARA has sufficient staff and space available to safeguard privacy interests necessary to accommodate the research project.

(2) The decision of the Committee will be made in writing to the requester within 15 workdays after receipt of a completed request. At the discretion of the Committee, the researcher may meet with the Committee to discuss the project or to discuss revising the research proposal to meet possible objections of the Committee.

(d) Conditions of access. Researchers who are granted access to restricted records, all others associated with the research project who will have access to personally identifiable information from the records, and the manager of any facility handling the records containing personal identifiers must agree in writing to maintain the confidentiality of the information and to adhere to the conditions of access imposed by NARA. NARA will impose the following conditions of access on any project; additional conditions may be imposed on the use of specific records or on specific projects:

(1) The records may be used only for the purpose of the research and for the reporting of research findings as described in the approved research project. The records may not be used for any other purpose;

(2) The records and any authorized copies of records may not be transferred to any person or institution not directly involved with the approved research project and subject to a written agreement to maintain confidentiality specified in § 1256.28(d);

(3) Reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards, as approved by NARA, to prevent unauthorized use or disclosure of the records must be established by the researcher and followed by all persons associated with the project;

(4) When required by NARA, the records must be consulted at the NARA facility where the records are located;

(5) The researcher's notes must not contain any individually identifiable information. The researcher must use an alternate code system to render personally identifiable information as anonymous in all research notes;

(6) Persons who are identified in the records may not be contacted by or on behalf of the researcher;

(7) Before publication or public presentation of the data, the final research product(s) must be provided to the Deputy Archivist of the United States for review. NARA's review is limited to ensuring that there is no possible identification of individuals in the research findings. NARA will not evaluate the validity of the research findings.

(e) Noncompliance with conditions of access. If we discover that a researcher has violated any of the conditions of access, we will take steps to revoke the NARA research privileges of that person and will consult with NARA's General Counsel or his or her designee to determine any other steps to be taken to prevent any further disclosure of the personal information concerned. NARA may also inform the following persons and organizations of the researcher's failure to follow the conditions of use:

(1) The institution with which the researcher is affiliated, if applicable;

(2) Persons who served as references in the application for access;

(3) Organizations that provided grant funds for the project;

(4) The sponsor of the publication or public presentation; and

(5) Appropriate professional organizations.

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