Effective July 1, 1976, the Commonwealth's Fair Information Practices Act became law. This statute's intent is to insure that all personal data maintained by the Commonwealth or any of its operating agencies be accurate, pertinent, relevant and confidential.
On February 2, 1977, the Board of Trustees of the University of Massachusetts voted to adopt a final set of regulations pertaining to this Act and published them under the title "University Fair Information Practices Regulations." Their purpose is to regulate the collection, maintenance and dissemination of personal data, with the object of protecting the confidentiality and rights of individuals who could be identified in any way by persons who have access to these records. The official set of regulations is available in the Personnel Office to anyone who would like to read them, but because they are so technical, this brief summary of the general policies and procedures to which the Personnel Office will adhere in regard to disseminating information and keeping files is being made available to you.
I. Certain information about individuals, defined as "Public Information" can, by virtue of these Regulations, be disseminated without restriction. "Public Information" includes name, position title, job description, salary, office location and telephone number, and dates of employment at the University.
II. A second group of information, defined as "Directory Information" consists of several categories of data which can be restricted from dissemination at your request. "Directory Information" includes home address and telephone number, date and place of birth, education, social security number, marital status, and citizenship.
If you, as a data subject, wish to request that some or all of this information not be disseminated or published, you must file a directive form with the Personnel Office specifying those categories of information that you do not want disseminated. A directive form concerning dissemination of "Directory Information" is attached to this memorandum. WE REQUEST THAT YOU COMPLETE THIS FORM AND RETURN IT TO THE PERSONNEL OFFICE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT YOU DESIRE TO RESTRICT THE DISSEMINATION OF CERTAIN CATEGORIES OF INFORMATION.
The Personnel Office will honor your directive unless dissemination of this information is required by statute, regulation, or legitimate University purpose. In the case of a court order or subpoena which mandates access to personal data, the Personnel Office will make every reasonable effort to notify you in advance of compliance therewith.
III. All other personal data will be held in confidence and not made available to other than those University officers or employees with a legitimate operational need and such other agencies or officials as may be authorized by law to have access, unless the Personnel Office has received written permission from you.
IV. Any data subject may look at his/her personal file during regular office hours provided reasonable advance notice is received by the Personnel Office from the data subject. (Arrangements can be made by contacting the Personnel Office at 545-0380.)
The file may be looked at only in the presence of a Personnel Office supervisory employee and copies of personal data may be made for a reasonable fee. The regulations specifically state, however, that letters of reference and statements of evaluation received before July 1, 1976 may not be made available to any data subject.
It should be noted that the individual's personal data file maintained by the Personnel Office is the official University file; however, similar data may also be maintained at the departmental or Dean's Office level.
V. An "Audit Trail" will be maintained for each data subject listing any agency or person from outside the University given information (excluding "Public Information") from a file. Records will be kept for a three month period. If you desire to know who has accessed information in your file, you may do so by inquiring in the Personnel Office.
VI. Data subjects objecting to the collection, maintenance, dissemination, use, accuracy, completeness or type of personal data held may exercise their right to appeal as outlined in the official University Fair Information Practices Regulations, a copy of which may be obtained from the Personnel Office.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst intends to conform to these regulations to the best of its ability. Surveys, reports, and statements must, of course, be disseminated outside the University, but no names will be used. Naturally, there has to be some communication of personal data within the University, but confidentiality and individual rights will be protected to the greatest practicable extent.
If you have any questions concerning this memorandum, they should be directed to James Coopee at 545-0380.
If you wish to update your FIPA information and have a printer connected to your computer Click here to display a blank form.