Memorandum M-11-02, Sharing Data While Protecting Privacy



The judicious use of accurate and reliable data plays a critical role in initiatives designedto increase the transparency and efficiency of Federal programs and to enhance our capacity to gauge program effectiveness. Sharing data among agencies also allows us to achieve better outcomes for the American public through more accurate evaluation of policy options, improved stewardship of taxpayer dollars, reduced paperwork burdens, and more coordinated delivery of public services.

As advances in technology enhance tools for data sharing, Federal agencies can and should seek new approaches for identifying and sharing high-value data responsibly and appropriately. This Memorandum strongly encourages Federal agencies to engage in coordinated efforts to share high-value data for purposes of supporting important Administration initiatives, informing public policy decisions, and improving program implementation while simultaneously embracing responsible stewardship.

When agencies share data, they must do so in a way that fully protects individual privacy. The public must be able to trust our ability to handle and protect personally identifiableinformation. In sharing data, agencies must comply with the Privacy Act of 1974 and all other applicable privacy laws, regulations, and policies. In addition to the legal framework that governs the use and disclosure of data, agencies are advised to consult established codes of Fair Information Practices. As OMB has previously noted, “the individual’s right to privacy must be protected in Federal Government information activities involving personal information.

Data sharing is critical to successful initiatives in many domains. The purpose of this Memorandum is to direct agencies to find solutions that allow data sharing to move forward in a manner that complies with applicable privacy laws, regulations, and polices. These collaborative efforts should include seeking ways to facilitate responsible data sharing for the purpose of conducting rigorous studies that promote informed public policy decisions.