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§701.106 Collecting information about individuals.
(a) Collecting information directly from the individual. To the greatest extent practicable, collect information for systems of records directly from the individual to whom the record pertains if the record may be used to make an adverse determination about the individual's rights, benefits, or privileges under a Federal program.
(b) Collecting information about individuals from third persons. It may not always be practical to collect all information about an individual directly. For example, when verifying information through other sources for security or employment suitability determinations; seeking other opinions, such as a supervisor's comments on past performance or other evaluations; obtaining the necessary information directly from the individual would be exceptionally difficult or would result in unreasonable costs or delays; or, the individual requests or consents to contacting another person to obtain the information.
(c) Soliciting the SSN. (1) It is unlawful for any Federal, State, or local government agency to deny an individual a right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because the individual refuses to provide his/her SSN. However, this prohibition does not apply if a Federal law requires that the SSN be provided, or the SSN is required by a law or regulation adopted before January 1, 1975, to verify the individual's identity for a system of records established and in use before that date.
(2) Before requesting an individual to provide the SSN, the individual must be advised whether providing the SSN is mandatory or voluntary; by what law or other authority the SSN is solicited; and what uses will be made of the SSN.
(3) The preceding advice relates only to the SSN. If other information about the individual is solicited for a system of records, a PAS also must be provided.
(4) The notice published in the Federal Register for each system of records containing SSNs solicited from individuals must indicate the authority for soliciting the SSNs and whether it is mandatory for the individuals to provide their SSN. E.O. 9397 requires Federal Agencies to use SSNs as numerical identifiers for individuals in most Federal records systems. However, it does not make it mandatory for individuals to provide their SSNs.
(5) When entering military service or civilian employment with the DON, individuals are asked to provide their SSNs. In many instances, this becomes the individual's numerical identifier and is used to establish personnel, financial, medical, and other official records (as authorized by E.O. 9397). The individuals must be given the notification described above. Once the individual has provided his/her SSN to establish a record, a notification is not required when the SSN is requested only for identification or to locate the records.
(6) DON activities are discouraged from collecting SSNs when another identifier would suffice. In those instances where activities wish to differentiate individuals, they may find it advantageous to only collect the last four digits of the individual's SSN, which is not considered to be privacy sensitive.
(7) If a DON activity requests an individual's SSN even though it is not required by Federal statute, or is not for a system of records in existence and operating prior to January 1, 1975, it must provide a PAS and make it clear that disclosure of the number is voluntary. Should the individual refuse to disclose his/her SSN, the activity must be prepared to identify the individual by alternate means.
(d) Contents of a PAS. (1) When an individual is requested to furnish PPI for possible inclusion in a system of records, a PAS must be provided to the individual, regardless of the method used to collect the information (e.g., forms, personal or telephonic interview, etc). If the information requested will not be included in a system of records, a PAS is not required.
(2) The PAS shall include the following:
(i) The Federal law or E.O. that authorizes collection of information (i.e., E.O. 9397 authorizes collection of SSNs);
(ii) Whether or not it is mandatory for the individual to provide the requested information. (Note: It is only mandatory when a Federal law or E.O. of the President specifically imposes a requirement to furnish the information and provides a penalty for failure to do so. If furnishing information is a condition precedent to granting a benefit or privilege voluntarily sought by the individual, then the individual may decline to provide the information and decline the benefit);
(iii) The principal purposes for collecting the information;
(iv) The routine uses that will be made of the information (e.g., to whom and why it will be disclosed outside DOD); and
(v) The possible effects on the individual if the requested information is not provided.
(3) The PAS must appear on the form used to collect the information or on a separate form that can be retained by the individual collecting the information. If the information is collected by a means other than a form completed by the individual, i.e., solicited over the telephone, the PAS should be read to the individual and if requested by the individual, a copy sent to him/her. There is no requirement that the individual sign the PAS.
(e) Format for a PAS. When forms are used to collect information about individuals for a system of records, the PAS shall appear as follows (listed in the order of preference):
(1) Immediately below the title of the form;
(2) Elsewhere on the front page of the form (clearly indicating it is the PAS);
(3) On the back of the form with a notation of its location below the title of the form; or,
(4) On a separate form which the individual may keep.
(f) Using forms issued by non-DOD activities. Forms subject to the PA issued by other Federal agencies have a PAS attached or included. DON activities shall ensure that the statement prepared by the originating agency is adequate for the purpose for which the form will be used by the DON activity. If the PAS provided is inadequate, the DON activity concerned shall prepare a new statement or a supplement to the existing statement before using the form. Forms issued by agencies not subject to the PA (state, municipal, and local agencies) do not contain a PAS. Before using a form prepared by such agencies to collect PPI subject to this subpart and subpart G, an appropriate PAS must be added.