Effective 09/08/94 (59 FR 46439)


System name: Personnel Research and Merit Promotion Test Records, SSA/OPE.

Security classification:


System location:

Social Security Administration, Office of Personnel, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235

Categories of individuals covered by the system:

Employees of SSA.

Categories of records in the system:

These records include tests, test scores, responses to test items and questionnaires, interview data, and special ratings of employees obtained in test validation and other research.

Authority for maintenance of the system:

5 U.S.C. 1303 and 3301.


This system is established for certain research projects such as those that involve longitudinal studies. Research data are collected on a project-by-project basis, and are used for the construction, analysis and validation of tests, for research on personnel measurement and selection methods and techniques such as performance evaluation or productivity. Many data are collected under conditions assuring their confidentiality. Personal information in this system of records is used by the Office of Personnel in its research activities. Merit Promotion Test and Assessment Center Systems are established to be used as factors weighted under SSA Merit Promotion Programs.

These records also may be used as a data source for production of summary descriptive statistics and analytical studies in support of the function for which the records are collected and maintained or for related personnel management functions or manpower studies.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses:

Disclosure may be made for routine uses as indicated below:
  1. To OPM for personnel research purposes.
  2. To a congressional office in response to an inquiry from that office made at the request of the subject of a record.
  3. To DOJ, a court or other tribunal, or another party before such tribunal when:

    is a party to litigation or has an interest in such litigation, and SSA determines that the use of such records by DOJ, the court or other tribunal is relevant and necessary to the litigation, provided, however, that in each case, SSA determines that such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were collected.

    Wage and other information which are subject to the disclosure provisions of the IRC (26 U.S.C. 6103) will not be disclosed under this routine use unless disclosure is expressly permitted by the IRC.

  4. Information may be disclosed to contractors and other Federal agencies, as necessary, for the purpose of assisting SSA in the efficient administration of its programs. We contemplate disclosing information under this routine use only in situations in which SSA may enter into a contractual or similar agreement with a third party to assist in accomplishing an agency function relating to this system of records.
  5. Nontax return information which is not restricted from disclosure by Federal law may be disclosed to GSA and NARA for the purpose of conducting records management studies with respect to their duties and responsibilities under 44 U.S.C. 2904 and 2906, as amended by NARA Act of 1984.
  6. To student volunteers and other workers, who technically do not have the status of Federal employees, when they are performing work for SSA as authorized by law, and they need access to personally identifiable information in SSA records in order to perform their assigned Agency functions.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system:


Records are maintained in file folders, floppy disks, punched cards, microfiche, computer tape and in computer storage.


Records are retrieved by one or more of the following: Region or headquarters, name, SSN, date of participation, and type of test or assessment center.


System security for automated records have been established in accordance with the Systems Security Handbook. This includes maintaining the records in secured areas attended by security guards. Anyone entering or leaving the areas must have a special badge issued only to authorized personnel. Access to the records is limited to personnel who have a need for them in the performance of their official duties. Manual records are maintained in locked files or rooms.

Also, all SSA employees periodically are briefed on PA requirements and SSA confidentiality rules, including the criminal sanctions for unauthorized disclosure of or access to personal records. (See Appendix G to this publication for additional information relating to safeguards SSA employs to protect personal information.)

Retention and disposal:

Test answer sheets are retained for 1 year and then destroyed by shredding. Answer sheets and data collected as part of personnel research projects are destroyed and/or purged once the study is completed.

System manager(s) and address:

Associate Commissioner, Office of Personnel, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235

Notification procedure:

An individual can determine if this system contains a record about him/her by writing to the above address.

When requesting notification, the individual should provide the name of the system, his/her name, identifier where required (e.g., SSN), and place of SSA employment or former employment. (Furnishing the SSN is voluntary, but it will make searching for an individual's record easier and avoid delay.)

An individual requesting notification of records in person need not furnish any special documents of identity. Documents he/she would normally carry on his/her person would be sufficient (e.g., credit cards, driver's license, or voter registration card). An individual requesting notification via mail or telephone must furnish a minimum of his/her name, date additional information specified in this section. These procedures are in accordance with HHS Regulations 45 CFR Part 5b.

Record access procedures:

Same as notification procedures. Also, requesters should reasonably specify the record contents being sought. These access procedures are in accordance with HHS Regulations 45 CFR Part 5b.

Contesting record procedures:

Same as notification procedures. Also, requesters should reasonably identify the record, specify the information they are contesting and state the corrective action sought and the reasons for the correction with supporting justification showing how the record is incomplete, untimely, inaccurate or irrelevant. These procedures are in accordance with HHS Regulations 45 CFR Part 5b.

Record source categories:

Information in this system is obtained from individual SSA employees, their supervisors, assessment center assessors or SSA personnel files and records.

Systems exempted from certain provisions of the Privacy Act:

Under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552a, subsection (k)(6), which provides for exempting "testing or examination material used solely to determine individual qualifications for appointment or promotion in the Federal service the disclosure of which would compromise the objectivity or fairness of the testing or examination process," we exempt from disclosure SSA merit promotion tests, test item files, answer keys, completed answer sheets, transmutation tables and schedules, and ratings given for the purpose of validating tests.

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