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SORN 09-90-9999

System name:  Automated Litigation Tracking System, HHS/OS/OGC.

Security classification:   None.

System location:  The database and software for this computerized system will be located at the Parklawn Computer Center (part of the Public Health Service) located at 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857.  Each OGC location identified in the Appendix on the Administrative Claims System (09-90-0062) Federal Register, Wednesday, October 13, 1982 (47 FR 45540-45542) will have access to the database and software via one or more CRT terminals.

Categories of individuals covered by the system:  The individuals on whom records are maintained in this system are: (1) Individuals who are involved in litigation with the Department or the United States (regarding matters within the jurisdiction of the Department) either as plaintiffs or as defendants in both civil and criminal matters, (2) individuals who either file administrative complaint with the Department or are the subjects of administrative complaints initiated by the Department, including claims which are the subjects of records maintained in the Administrative Claims System,09-90-0062, (3) individuals who are named parties in cases in which the Department believes it will or may become involved, and (4) OGC attorneys to whom cases are assigned.

Categories of records in the system:  The records contain information to identify:

(1) The cases and legal actions that the Department either is involved in or in which it believes it will or may become involved, (2) the people involved in each case, (3) where within the government the case has been assigned, (4) what the status of the case is, including the key events that may have occurred, and (5) the legal and programmatic issues of the case.

Authority for maintenance of the system:  The authority for maintaining this system are the various statutes, regulations, rules or orders pertaining to the subject matter of the litigation, administrative complaint or adverse personnel action, (e.g., Public Health Service Act; Social Security Act; Civil Rights Act; Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2671-2680, 1346(b); Waiver of Overpayment of Pay Act, 5 U.S.C. 5584; Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 240-243; Federal Claims Collection Act, 31 U.S.C. 951-953; and Federal Medical Care Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. 2651-2653).

Purpose(s):  To enable the Office of the General Counsel to: (1) More efficiently and effectively use its resources in court and administrative proceedings, (2) provide a research tool that will permit attorneys to identify when and where similar litigation has occurred, and (3) enable management to better balance the attorney workload.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses:

Records are used in communicating with, among others, Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies, private individuals, private and public hospitals, allegedly negligent parties, private    attorneys, insurance companies, the United States Attorney and other Federal officials and agencies, individual law enforcement officers, and tribal officials. These communications are all for the purpose of investigating, settling, or denying claims and subsequent litigation action. 

Disclosure may be made to a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to an inquiry from the congressional office made at the request of that individual.

In the event of litigation where the defendant is (a) the Department, any component of the  Department, or any employee of the Department in his or her official capacity; (b) the United States where the Department determines that the claim, if successful, is likely to directly affect the operations of the Department or any of its components; or (c) any Department employee in his or her individual capacity where the Justice Department has agreed to represent such employee, the Department may disclose such records as it deems desirable or necessary to the Department of Justice to enable that Department to present an effective defense provided such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which the records were collected.

In the event that a system of records maintained by this agency to carry outs its functions indicates a violation or potential violation of law, whether civil, criminal or regulatory in nature, and whether arising by general statute or particular program statute, or by regulation, rule or order issued pursuant thereto, the relevant records in the system or records may referred, as a routing use to the appropriate agency, whether Federal, state, local, or foreign, charged with the responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation or charged with enforcing or implementing the statute, rule, regulation, or order issued pursuant thereto.

In the event the Department deems it desirable or necessary, in determining whether particular records are required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, disclosure may be made to the Department of Justice for the purpose of obtaining its advice.

A record from this system of records may be disclosed as a “routine use'' to a Federal, state or local agency maintaining civil, criminal or other relevant enforcement records or other pertinent records, such as current licenses, if necessary to obtain a record relevant to an agency decision concerning the hiring or retention of an employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit.

A record from this system of records may be disclosed to a Federal agency, in response to its request, in connection with the hiring or retention of an employee, the issuance of a security

clearance, the reporting of an investigation of an employee, the letting of a contract, or the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit by the requesting agency, to the extent that the record is relevant and necessary to the requesting agency's decision on the matter.

A record from this system of records may be disclosed to the Department of Justice or other appropriate Federal agencies in defending claims against the United States when the claim is based upon an individual's mental or physical condition and is alleged to have arisen because of activities of the Public Health Service in connection with such individual.

A record from this system of records may be disclosed to any Federal, state or local agency where the Department deems that the information is needed for any aspect of administering a Federal, state, or local program.

Records from this system may be disclosed to a private firm under contract to the Department for the purpose of having that firm convert the records to machine readable form, or collate, analyze, aggregate or otherwise refine the information in the records. The contractor will be required to maintain Privacy Act safeguards with respect to such records.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system:

Storage:  Information will be stored on a variety of computer-readable, electronic media, including disc, mass storage, and magnetic tape.

Retrievability:   The records in this system will be indexed by the court's docket number for the litigation and will be retrievable by any information contained in the record, including by: The name of either party, the Social Security Number (only for records on cases involving claims against one or more programs administered by the Social Security Administration or the Health Care Financing Administration), the name of the attorney assigned the case, and the legal or programmatic issues involved.  Only OGC staff will be permitted to retrieve information from this system.

Safeguards:  The buildings where these records are stored on electronic media are safeguarded by a variety of physical security systems which permit access only by authorized computer center personnel and authorized visitors escorted by computer center staff.

The computer terminals used to access the records are kept in rooms which are locked at the close of the business day and are generally accessible only to General Counsel personnel.  Electronically, the records are protected from unauthorized access by several password oriented systems which produce an audit trail of all attempts (successful and unsuccessful) to access the records. In general, this system complies with all security guidelines published by the Department (Part 6, ADP Systems Manual), which embodies the guidance presented by the National Bureau of Standards in the Federal Information Processing Standards.

Retention and disposal:  Records are maintained until the litigation or other judicial proceedings have ended and for varying periods of time thereafter, subject to the Federal Records Act and applicable retention schedules.

System manager(s) and address:  The agency official responsible for the system policies and practices outlined above is: The General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the General Counsel, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Room 722A, 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201.

Notification procedure:  Any inquiries regarding these systems of records should be addressed to the System Manager. An individual who requests notification of or access to a medical record shall, at the time the request is made, designate in writing a responsible representative who will be willing to review the record and inform the subject individual of its contents at the representative's discretion.

Record access procedures:  Same as notification procedures. Requesters should also reasonably specify the record contents being sought. Access will not be provided to materials compiled by the Department for litigation purposes, such as information about briefs and recommendations to appeal or not to appeal, except when such access is granted by the court as a result of discovery or due process.

Contesting record procedures:  Contact the official designated in the section, “System Manager(s) and address'', above; reasonably identify the record and specify the information that is to be contested; and state the corrective action sought and your reasons for requesting the correction, with supporting evidence to show why the record is not accurate, timely, complete, relevant or necessary.

Record source categories:  The information for this system is obtained through a number of sources including the exchange of legal pleadings, documents, formal and informal discovery, program offices and component agencies, private attorneys, State and local governments, their agencies and instrumentalities, and officers of other Federal agencies and the individuals involved.

Systems exempted from certain provisions of the act:  None.

Content created by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Division