Privacy Technical Assistance Center and Related Activities

Aligned to goals:
  • 1.1: Provide clarity and guidance on privacy rules and regulations to ensure that information and data can be shared in a timely manner with the public while still protecting individual privacy as required by law.
  • 1.5: Maintain up-to-date information on the Department's website about Department offices and key programs.
  • 3.1: Enhance collaboration with other federal and non-federal agencies, the public, and non-profit and private entities.

Understanding and complying with privacy regulations can be a complex task for organizations and individuals that deal regularly in education data. The Department has recognized the need to provide a wider range of services and assistance to help ensure that privacy and confidentiality regulations are followed, while also helping to ensure that data are effectively and safely used under the law.

NCES, in collaboration with the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO), Office of the General Counsel, and other Department staff and offices will establish and maintain a Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) as a resource for SEAs, LEAs, the postsecondary community, and other parties engaged with education data. PTAC will adopt a one-stop approach to supporting the SLDS field in privacy, confidentiality, and security. Its staff will disseminate information, answer individual questions, conduct training, and, as appropriate, refer questions to experts in the Department (such as FPCO). To maintain this capability, PTAC staff will need to stay current on data privacy, confidentiality, and security issues, timely and accurate solutions, and the intricacies of developing and maintaining State and local data systems. This Center will be established by fall 2010.

In addition, NCES will issue quick-turnaround Technical Briefs, which will document for State SLDS staff the requirements of current privacy laws and regulations, as well as best practices in the field. Topics will include disclosure protection for personally identifiable information, statistical methods for protecting such information, data stewardship, electronic data security, and maintaining protection with data sharing. The first set of these briefs will be released in summer 2010.

Related to the Technical Briefs and the mission of PTAC, the Department will develop Non-Regulatory Guidance for States that pull together the content of the Technical Briefs, along with responses to the comments and questions they generate. This initial guidance material will be published in fall 2010.