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Announcing a New Privacy Office within OIRA

We’re creating a team of privacy professionals dedicated to making privacy a more comprehensive, strategic, and continuous function of Government.

As more and more sensitive information is collected and shared in our digital economy, President Obama has made clear that the Federal Government needs to ensure that its privacy practices evolve to appropriately reflect the Government’s use of emerging technologies. That’s why we’ve been taking a hard look at the Federal Government’s privacy practices, and are leading a groundbreaking effort to enhance how Federal agencies protect the privacy of individuals and their information.

In just the past year, we established a Federal Privacy Council to coordinate and share ideas, best practices, and successful approaches for protecting privacy across the Government. We put forth a new approach for agencies to develop and maintain a continuous and risk-based privacy monitoring strategy. And we directed agencies to reassess the structure and resources of their privacy programs.

Today, we’re taking it a step further.

To build on and institutionalize this progress, I am establishing a new Privacy office and creating a dedicated senior career position for privacy within the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The new office and career official will be dedicated to strengthening the Government’s privacy practices and continuing to make privacy a more comprehensive, strategic, and continuous function of Government.

Specifically, they will:

  • Lead efforts to develop and implement consistent, comprehensive, and forward-looking Federal privacy policies, strategies, and practices across agencies as the Federal Government continues to leverage technology and innovation to deliver better citizen-centered services for Americans;
  • Collaborate with the Federal Privacy Council and privacy leaders across the Government to identify government-wide trends and issues related to privacy that require government-wide solutions; and
  • Oversee and evaluate agency regulatory initiatives, privacy policies, information collection and related policies, and other policy initiatives that impact the privacy of information about people.

The actions announced today will increase OIRA’s capacity to match the growing importance of privacy matters and ensure continuity of leadership on federal privacy policy over time.  Further, they will strengthen and leverage OIRA’s existing privacy functions, including its existing staff resources, statutory responsibilities related to privacy, and coordinating role in several statistical and information policy areas. And as OIRA’s current privacy experts have already been doing, the new office and career privacy official will work closely with OMB’s Senior Advisor for Privacy, a political appointee, on privacy matters.

As I have said before, if we don’t invest in privacy today, the issues will only be more challenging tomorrow. The steps we are taking today demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to striving for the highest standards of privacy and maintaining the trust of the American people. They also complement our work to keep the Federal Government at the leading edge of 21st century innovation. And while the role and responsibilities of the new office may evolve to keep pace with ever-changing technologies and advancements in information analytics, the new office – and the career position created to lead it – are here to stay not just in the months ahead, but for years to come.