Wednesday, September 28, 2011

FEMA SAR Privacy Act Notice

Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a notice in the Federal Register (76 FR 60067-60070)that they were establishing a new system of records covered under provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974; the DHS/FEMA – 012 Suspicious Activity Reporting System of Records. In general this system of records would allow FEMA to implement a formal system to support the Department’s ‘See Something Say Something’ program.

This FEMA SARs program would be operated by the Office of the Chief Security Officer’s Fraud and Investigations Unit. Suspicious activity reports received by FEMA elements would be forwarded to this office for analysis. Reports determined to have a ‘nexus to terrorism or hazards to homeland security’ would be shared with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Federal Protective Service or other appropriate federal agency with the responsibility to investigate and respond to terrorist threats.

In addition FEMA will be publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (these NPRMs are normally in the same issue of the Federal Register, but I don’t see it today) providing this new system of records with the standard law enforcement exemption from certain disclosure provisions of the Privacy Act.

While certain elements that see FEMA black helicopters supporting the new world order will be alarmed about this notice, this is a standard bureaucratic notice supporting a minor program of a small office within FEMA. Every DHS agency that doesn’t have existing law enforcement systems of records will eventually get around to issuing similar notices. This will almost certainly include the CFATS program at ISCD.

Public comments are being solicited on this notice. They may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; Docket # DHS-2011-0090). They need to be submitted by October 27th, 2011.

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