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Identification Code
Maximum Responses
Sample Searches
System Name
System Number
Addtional Instructions for Searching Databases

Content and File Format: The Privacy Act database contains the Privacy Act Issuances (Compilations 1995-Forward). The Privacy Act Issuances Online contain descriptions of Federal agency systems of records maintained on individuals and procedures or "rules" federal agencies follow to assist individuals who request information about their records. The categories of documents in this database are; individual Privacy Act system descriptions; and agency record keeping policies and practices. Documents are available as ASCII text files. There are two sources of Privacy Act Notices: the Privacy Act Issuances (Compilations 1995-Forward) and the Federal Register which has updates to the most recent Compilation.


Fields: The fields in the Privacy Act Issuances (Compilations 1995-Forward) database online via GPO Access are:

        agency:   Searches for a specific Agency Name  
        name:     Searches for a specific System Name
        system:   Searches for a specific System Number

When searching via SWAIS (dial-in or telnet session) or a WAIS client, a field can be searched by typing the field name, followed by an equals sign (=), followed by the term or terms that are sought. Similarly, when searching via the World Wide Web, you may type in the field name, followed by an equals sign (=), followed by the term(s) sought or link to the ADVANCED searching pages which contain established fields. All queries that do not specify a field search the entire database.


Identification Code: Each document in the Privacy Act database online via GPO Access will be displayed in the results list with an identification code followed by the initial words of the title. The identification code for the Privacy Act database lists the database name and the Federal Agency's name. For example, Privacy Act: Defense Department.


Maximum Responses: The default settings for SWAIS and for the WAIS and Web client software is to return a maximum of 40 responses to a query. To locate a larger number of documents, you will need to change the setting. In SWAIS type a lower case o at the Source Selection menu to change your options. In WinWAIS, select Edit and then Preferences from the pull-down menu. In MacWAIS, select File and then Preferences from the pull-down menu. On the GPO Access Web Searching Pages a box is provided in which you may change the number of documents returned.

The following sample searches demonstrate the most common searches and searching techniques used to find Privacy Act information online via GPO Access.


Good sample searches for the Privacy Act database are: [TOP] [SEARCH]


Query:          "medical records"
Alternative:    medical ADJ records
Results:        Privacy Act: [DEFENSE DEPARTMENT]
                Privacy Act: [HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPT.]

This search demonstrated how to search by subject matter. It also demonstrations the functioning of the ADJ operator (or use of a phrase in quotation marks). This particular search retrieves all documents which mention the phrase "medical records".



Query:          "internal revenue service" AND "payroll records"
Results:        Privacy Act: [Treasury/IRS 90.018]
                Privacy Act: [TREASURY DEPARTMENT]
                Privacy Act: [ PCC/FMTR-2] Internal Revenue

This search retrieves documents based on agency name. This search was modified and made more specific with the addition of the phrase "payroll records". This modification makes the search much more specific than if you searched by agency name. As an alternative, you can use the agency field in conjunction with the subject. The asterisk (*) will pick up the word researchers (plural) as well as the singular word researcher.


System Name

Query:          name="Security Records System"
Results:        Privacy Act:  [NASA 10SECR] Security Records System

This search demonstrates how to search by system name using the field "name". This query will only retrieve documents that have the phrase "security records system" as the system name. Search criteria is not case sensitive.

Through GPO 's Privacy Act Specialized Page a User can:

Type in search criteria in the appropriate labeled box
Restrict search to rules only
Find all Privacy Act information for a particular agency
Perform a search in the Federal Register for updates with a touch of a button

Additional GPO Access Materials:



Questions, or comments regarding this service? Contact the GPO Access User Support Team
by Internet e-mail at gpoaccess@gpo.gov;
by telephone at 1-202-512-1530 or toll free at 1-888-293-6498;
by fax at 1-202-512-1262.


Page #DESC015 June 2, 2003