Type of Document Dissertation Author Snead, John T. URN etd-07112009-015831 Title Multi-method Evaluation Of Federal Web Sites In Terms of Access For Individuals To Records Maintained By Executive Agencies Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Information Studies, College of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Charles R. McClure Committee Chair Charles C. Hinnant Committee Member Don Latham Committee Member Stephen D. McDowell Outside Committee Member Keywords
- Privacy Act Requests
- Information Policy
- Privacy Act
- Access To Agency Records
Date of Defense 2009-04-29 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis dissertation examined access for individuals through federal web sites to records maintained by Executive agencies that contain personal information as defined by the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a). Privacy Act statutory provisions, as amended in 1988 provide individuals rights of access to records that contain personal information about or relative to the individual where individuals must first make a request for access and agencies must then address the request, i.e. to either fulfill or deny the request. The primary body of laws, Congressional oversight, judicial interpretations, research, and debate related to access via the Privacy Act emphasize agencies’ response to requests for access. Very little work addresses how agencies provide individual’s information on how to request access.
This study takes an exploratory approach that employs an iterative, multi-method evaluation of selected Executive agencies to understand access for individuals through agency web sites to agency records that contain personal information. The methods in this study include a policy analysis, usability study, Web-content review, and Privacy Act request review.
Data analysis results include key findings, key issues, and suggested recommendations that specifically address identified Privacy Act access related issues. Key findings include:
1. The Privacy Act remains virtually unchanged since 1988 yet the information policy environment has changed dramatically from direct contact with agencies to the electronic delivery of government information services and resources through agency web sites referred to as E-Government.
2. There are no mandated Privacy Act statutes that require clearly identified and dedicated web space across departments and agencies for posting all Privacy Act related information resources.
3. Privacy Act statutes do not adequately provide protections of individuals’ personal information as intended by Congress.
4. There are no mandated procedures for all departments and agencies to follow in presenting information related to how agencies provide information to individuals on how to submit a request.
5. Very little information is available for individuals that explain the relationship between FOIA requirements and Privacy Act requirements and how this relationship as applied independently by departments and agencies affect the Privacy Act request process.
To gain an understanding of the request process for individuals, the research of this study focused on how selected federal agencies provide information related to an individual’s request for access to records through federal web sites, the success of agencies provision of the request information, and how the provision affects the interaction between individuals and agencies.
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