Privacy Act of 1974; Amendment of System of Records, 77205-77207 [2013-30227]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 245 / Friday, December 20, 2013 / Notices the healing of body and spirit by motivating Veterans to reach their full potential, improve their independence, and achieve a healthier lifestyle and higher quality of life. Surveys are designed to allow program improvement and measure the tangible, quantifiable benefits of the events using event applications. Information collection is used for the planning, distribution and utilization of resources and to allocate clinical and administrative support to patient treatment services. Affected Public: Individuals or households. Estimated Annual Burden: 2782 burden hours. Estimated Average Burden per Respondent: 2.552 minutes. (a) National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, VA Form 10107 (2.5 min.) (b) National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, VA Form 10108 (2.25 min.) (c) National Veterans Golden Age Games, VA Form 10109 (2.5 min.) (d) National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, VA Form 10110 (2.25 min.) (e) National Veterans TEE Tournament, VA Form 10111 (2.75 min.) (f) National Veterans Wheelchair Games, VA Form 10112 (2.75 min.) Frequency of Response: 28.75 (annual). Estimated Number of Respondents: 2275. Dated: December 17, 2013. By direction of the Secretary. Crystal Rennie, VA Clearance Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs. [FR Doc. 2013–30306 Filed 12–19–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8320–01–P DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS emcdonald on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses; Notice of Meeting The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice under Public Law 92– 463 (Federal Advisory Committee Act) that the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses will meet on January 7–8, 2014. The meeting will be held in room 230, 810 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC, at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The meeting will start at 8:00 a.m. each day and will adjourn at 5:30 p.m. on January 7 and at 12:30 p.m. on January 8. All sessions will be open to the public. The purpose of the Committee is to provide advice and make recommendations to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on proposed research VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:44 Dec 19, 2013 Jkt 232001 studies, research plans, and research strategies relating to the health consequences of military service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Gulf War. The Committee will review VA program activities related to Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses and updates on relevant scientific research published since the last Committee meeting. The research presentations on January 7 will involve gender differences related to Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses and treatments guided by systems biology. There will also be Committee training and updates on the Department of Defense and VA Gulf War research initiatives. A Committee report and other Committee business will be discussed on both days. The meeting will include time reserved for public comments on both days. A sign-up sheet for 5-minute comments will be available at the meeting. Individuals who speak are invited to submit a 1–2 page summary of their comments at the time of the meeting for inclusion in the official meeting record. Members of the public may also submit written statements for the Committee’s review to Dr. Roberta White at rwhite@bu.edu. Because the meeting is being held in a government building, a photo I.D. must be presented at the Guard’s Desk as part of the clearance process. Therefore, any person intending to attend should allow an additional 15 minutes before the meeting begins. Any member of the public seeking additional information should contact Dr. Roberta White, Scientific Director, at (617) 638– 4620 or Dr. Victor Kalasinsky, Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 443–5682. Dated: December 17, 2013. Jeffrey M. Martin, Office Manager, Regulation Policy and Management, Office of the General Counsel. [FR Doc. 2013–30342 Filed 12–19–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8320–01–P DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS Privacy Act of 1974; Amendment of System of Records Department of Veterans Affairs. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Privacy Act of 1974, at 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) 552a(e)(4), requires that all agencies publish in the Federal Register a notice of the existence and character of their records. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice that it is amending the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00112 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 77205 system of records entitled ‘‘Accreditation Records–VA’’ (01VA022) as set forth in the Federal Register, 40 FR 38095, August 26, 1975; and amended in 47 FR 1460, January 13, 1982, 54 FR 30969, July 25, 1989, 59 FR 47377, September 15, 1994, 67 FR 54529, August 22, 2002, and 74 FR 23247, May 18, 2009. VA is amending the system notice by adding new routine uses 15, 16, and 17. DATES: Comments on the proposed amendments to this system of records must be received no later than January 21, 2014. If no public comments are received by this date, the amendments will become effective on January 21, 2014. ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted through http:// www.Regulations.gov; by mail or handdelivery to the Director, Regulation Policy and Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273–9026. Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1063B, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461–4902 for an appointment. In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Lee (022D), Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Professional Staff Group II, Office of the General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420, (202) 461–7699. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: By statute, VA is required to ensure that, in presenting their claims, VA claimants have access to competent representation by individuals of good character and reputation. 38 U.S.C. 5904(a). Therefore, individuals wishing to represent claimants before VA must be authorized to do so. 38 CFR 14.626. This authorization is known as accreditation. The System of Records ‘‘Accreditation Records–VA’’ (01VA022) contains VA’s accreditation records. I. Applicants for VA Accreditation VA accredits claims agents, attorneys, and representatives of recognized veterans service organizations to ensure that claimants for VA benefits have responsible, qualified representation before the Department. 38 CFR 14.626. An individual seeking VA accreditation as an attorney or claims agent is required to establish his or her fitness to E:\FR\FM\20DEN1.SGM 20DEN1 77206 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 245 / Friday, December 20, 2013 / Notices emcdonald on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES practice before VA, which means that ‘‘he or she is of good character and reputation, is qualified to render valuable assistance to claimants, and is otherwise competent to advise and assist claimants in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of their claim(s) before [VA].’’ 38 CFR 14.629(b)(2). With this in mind, VA requires that an applicant for accreditation as an attorney or claims agent provide VA with information regarding his or her background, including prior criminal acts, pending criminal charges, and instances of professional misconduct. 38 CFR 14.629(b). VA acknowledges that an applicant for VA accreditation may choose not to be entirely forthcoming and truthful regarding matters that may call into question his or her fitness to practice before VA. Therefore, it may be necessary for VA to independently verify or obtain certain background information. Such verification often takes the form of a criminal background check or other similar inquiry to a third party. In order to comply with the Privacy Act of 1974, rather than securing background checks from law enforcement agencies or other third party sources directly, VA’s current practice is to request that the applicant provide copies of background checks from Federal and state law enforcement authorities. Having to make such requests delays the processing of applications for accreditation, while not having the information at all impedes VA’s efforts to ensure that claimants receive appropriate representation. In order to facilitate the use of third parties or entities to conduct background checks, VA requires the ability to release information from its accreditation system of records to these third parties and entities. II. Accredited and Non-Accredited Individuals The requirement of demonstrating fitness to practice before VA is ongoing and an individual’s accreditation, once granted, is subject to suspension or cancellation if the VA General Counsel determines, by clear and convincing evidence, that an accredited individual is involved in any unlawful, unprofessional, or unethical practice that adversely affects the individual’s fitness to practice before VA. 38 CFR 14.633(c). Moreover, an individual who is not accredited by VA cannot lawfully assist claimants with their claims for VA benefits. Under current law, ‘‘upon [VA’s] receipt of credible written information VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:44 Dec 19, 2013 Jkt 232001 from any source indicating improper conduct, or incompetence [of an accredited individual], the Assistant General Counsel of jurisdiction shall inform the subject of the allegations about the specific law, regulation, or policy alleged to have been violated or the nature of the alleged incompetence and the source of the complaint, and shall provide the subject with the opportunity to respond.’’ 38 CFR 14.633(e). If the accredited individual responds to the allegations contained in the complaint, VA may provide to the complainant information in the accredited individual’s response to facilitate resolution of the issues. VA often uses similar procedures with regard to complaints concerning the legality of representation provided to a VA claimant by an individual, acting alone or as part of an organization, who is not accredited by VA. In order to comply with the Privacy Act of 1974, upon receipt of a response from the subject of the allegation, VA must send a release form to that individual and wait for it to be completed and returned before VA can inform the complainant of information contained in the response and proceed with resolution of the complaint. If the individual chooses not to complete the release form, VA may be precluded from disclosing the individual’s response to the complainant for reply. Therefore, individuals who are the subject of a complaint would lack incentive to complete the release form and return it to VA, which hinders VA’s ability to obtain all information necessary in deciding whether to initiate proceedings to suspend or cancel an individual’s accreditation pursuant to 38 CFR 14.633 or to determine whether to refer a matter involving a possible violation of the law to a Federal, state, local, tribal, or foreign agency charged with the responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation. Additional Routine Uses Accordingly, to ensure that VA claimants receive responsible, quality representation before the Department, VA is adding routine uses 15,16, and 17 to allow the disclosure of information in this system (1) to third parties for the purpose of conducting background checks or obtaining other relevant information regarding the qualifications of applicants for accreditation; (2) to individuals who submit a credible written complaint about an accredited individual’s fitness to represent VA claimants; or (3) to individuals who submit a credible written complaint about the legality of representation PO 00000 Frm 00113 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 provided to a VA claimant by a nonaccredited individual. Release of information from these records, pursuant to routine uses, will be made only in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974. The Privacy Act of 1974 permits agencies to disclose information about individuals, without their consent, for a routine use when the information will be used for a purpose for which the information was collected. VA has determined that the disclosure of information for the above purposes in the proposed amendment to routine uses is a proper and necessary use of the information collected by the system ‘‘Accreditation Records–VA.’’ The report of intent to amend the system of records and an advance copy of the system notice have been sent to the appropriate Congressional committees and to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as required by 5 U.S.C. 552a(r) (Privacy Act) and guidelines issued by OMB (65 FR 77677, December 12, 2000). Approved: November 26, 2013. Jose D. Riojas, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs. 01VA022 SYSTEM NAME: Accreditation Records—VA. ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OF USERS AND THE PURPOSES OF SUCH USES: * * * * * 15. VA may disclose the name, address, date of birth, and any other identifying information of any prospective, present, or former accredited representative, claims agent, attorney, or individual providing representation on a particular claim to a third-party individual or entity for the purpose of conducting a background check or to obtain information about the individual’s present or past conduct, activities, licenses, or other information that may have a bearing on a determination of the individual’s fitness to represent or to continue representing claimants before VA. 16. VA may disclose the name and address of any prospective, present, or former accredited representative, claims agent, attorney, or individual providing representation on a particular claim who is the subject of correspondence, an investigation, or a proceeding relating to his or her fitness to represent claimants for VA benefits, and any information concerning such individual that relates to unlawful, unprofessional, or unethical actions by that individual or to VA’s possible denial, cancellation, E:\FR\FM\20DEN1.SGM 20DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 245 / Friday, December 20, 2013 / Notices emcdonald on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES suspension, or termination of the individual’s VA accreditation, or to both, where applicable, to an individual or entity from whom VA has received a credible written complaint about the accredited individual’s fitness to represent VA claimants. 17. VA may disclose the name and address of any individual (acting alone VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:44 Dec 19, 2013 Jkt 232001 or as part of an organization) not accredited by VA who is the subject of correspondence, an investigation, or proceeding relating to the legality of representation provided by such individual to claimants for VA benefits, and any information concerning such individual that relates to unlawful, PO 00000 Frm 00114 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 77207 unprofessional, or unethical actions by that individual to an individual or entity from whom VA has received a credible written complaint about the legality of representation provided by the non-accredited individual. [FR Doc. 2013–30227 Filed 12–19–13; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8320–01–P E:\FR\FM\20DEN1.SGM 20DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 245 (Friday, December 20, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 77205-77207]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-30227]


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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


Privacy Act of 1974; Amendment of System of Records

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Privacy Act of 1974, at 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) 
552a(e)(4), requires that all agencies publish in the Federal Register 
a notice of the existence and character of their records. The 
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice that it is amending 
the system of records entitled ``Accreditation Records-VA'' (01VA022) 
as set forth in the Federal Register, 40 FR 38095, August 26, 1975; and 
amended in 47 FR 1460, January 13, 1982, 54 FR 30969, July 25, 1989, 59 
FR 47377, September 15, 1994, 67 FR 54529, August 22, 2002, and 74 FR 
23247, May 18, 2009. VA is amending the system notice by adding new 
routine uses 15, 16, and 17.

DATES: Comments on the proposed amendments to this system of records 
must be received no later than January 21, 2014. If no public comments 
are received by this date, the amendments will become effective on 
January 21, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted through http://www.Regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to the Director, 
Regulation Policy and Management (02REG), Department of Veterans 
Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by 
fax to (202) 273-9026. Copies of comments received will be available 
for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and 
Management, Room 1063B, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., 
Monday through Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 for 
an appointment. In addition, during the comment period, comments may be 
viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Lee (022D), Deputy Assistant 
General Counsel, Professional Staff Group II, Office of the General 
Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., 
Washington, DC 20420, (202) 461-7699.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: By statute, VA is required to ensure that, 
in presenting their claims, VA claimants have access to competent 
representation by individuals of good character and reputation. 38 
U.S.C. 5904(a). Therefore, individuals wishing to represent claimants 
before VA must be authorized to do so. 38 CFR 14.626. This 
authorization is known as accreditation. The System of Records 
``Accreditation Records-VA'' (01VA022) contains VA's accreditation 
records.

I. Applicants for VA Accreditation

    VA accredits claims agents, attorneys, and representatives of 
recognized veterans service organizations to ensure that claimants for 
VA benefits have responsible, qualified representation before the 
Department. 38 CFR 14.626. An individual seeking VA accreditation as an 
attorney or claims agent is required to establish his or her fitness to

[[Page 77206]]

practice before VA, which means that ``he or she is of good character 
and reputation, is qualified to render valuable assistance to 
claimants, and is otherwise competent to advise and assist claimants in 
the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of their claim(s) before 
[VA].'' 38 CFR 14.629(b)(2). With this in mind, VA requires that an 
applicant for accreditation as an attorney or claims agent provide VA 
with information regarding his or her background, including prior 
criminal acts, pending criminal charges, and instances of professional 
misconduct. 38 CFR 14.629(b).
    VA acknowledges that an applicant for VA accreditation may choose 
not to be entirely forthcoming and truthful regarding matters that may 
call into question his or her fitness to practice before VA. Therefore, 
it may be necessary for VA to independently verify or obtain certain 
background information. Such verification often takes the form of a 
criminal background check or other similar inquiry to a third party.
    In order to comply with the Privacy Act of 1974, rather than 
securing background checks from law enforcement agencies or other third 
party sources directly, VA's current practice is to request that the 
applicant provide copies of background checks from Federal and state 
law enforcement authorities. Having to make such requests delays the 
processing of applications for accreditation, while not having the 
information at all impedes VA's efforts to ensure that claimants 
receive appropriate representation. In order to facilitate the use of 
third parties or entities to conduct background checks, VA requires the 
ability to release information from its accreditation system of records 
to these third parties and entities.

II. Accredited and Non-Accredited Individuals

    The requirement of demonstrating fitness to practice before VA is 
ongoing and an individual's accreditation, once granted, is subject to 
suspension or cancellation if the VA General Counsel determines, by 
clear and convincing evidence, that an accredited individual is 
involved in any unlawful, unprofessional, or unethical practice that 
adversely affects the individual's fitness to practice before VA. 38 
CFR 14.633(c). Moreover, an individual who is not accredited by VA 
cannot lawfully assist claimants with their claims for VA benefits.
    Under current law, ``upon [VA's] receipt of credible written 
information from any source indicating improper conduct, or 
incompetence [of an accredited individual], the Assistant General 
Counsel of jurisdiction shall inform the subject of the allegations 
about the specific law, regulation, or policy alleged to have been 
violated or the nature of the alleged incompetence and the source of 
the complaint, and shall provide the subject with the opportunity to 
respond.'' 38 CFR 14.633(e). If the accredited individual responds to 
the allegations contained in the complaint, VA may provide to the 
complainant information in the accredited individual's response to 
facilitate resolution of the issues. VA often uses similar procedures 
with regard to complaints concerning the legality of representation 
provided to a VA claimant by an individual, acting alone or as part of 
an organization, who is not accredited by VA.
    In order to comply with the Privacy Act of 1974, upon receipt of a 
response from the subject of the allegation, VA must send a release 
form to that individual and wait for it to be completed and returned 
before VA can inform the complainant of information contained in the 
response and proceed with resolution of the complaint. If the 
individual chooses not to complete the release form, VA may be 
precluded from disclosing the individual's response to the complainant 
for reply. Therefore, individuals who are the subject of a complaint 
would lack incentive to complete the release form and return it to VA, 
which hinders VA's ability to obtain all information necessary in 
deciding whether to initiate proceedings to suspend or cancel an 
individual's accreditation pursuant to 38 CFR 14.633 or to determine 
whether to refer a matter involving a possible violation of the law to 
a Federal, state, local, tribal, or foreign agency charged with the 
responsibility of investigating or prosecuting such violation.

Additional Routine Uses

    Accordingly, to ensure that VA claimants receive responsible, 
quality representation before the Department, VA is adding routine uses 
15,16, and 17 to allow the disclosure of information in this system (1) 
to third parties for the purpose of conducting background checks or 
obtaining other relevant information regarding the qualifications of 
applicants for accreditation; (2) to individuals who submit a credible 
written complaint about an accredited individual's fitness to represent 
VA claimants; or (3) to individuals who submit a credible written 
complaint about the legality of representation provided to a VA 
claimant by a non-accredited individual.
    Release of information from these records, pursuant to routine 
uses, will be made only in accordance with the provisions of the 
Privacy Act of 1974. The Privacy Act of 1974 permits agencies to 
disclose information about individuals, without their consent, for a 
routine use when the information will be used for a purpose for which 
the information was collected. VA has determined that the disclosure of 
information for the above purposes in the proposed amendment to routine 
uses is a proper and necessary use of the information collected by the 
system ``Accreditation Records-VA.'' The report of intent to amend the 
system of records and an advance copy of the system notice have been 
sent to the appropriate Congressional committees and to the Director of 
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as required by 5 U.S.C. 
552a(r) (Privacy Act) and guidelines issued by OMB (65 FR 77677, 
December 12, 2000).

    Approved: November 26, 2013.
Jose D. Riojas,
Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs.
01VA022

SYSTEM NAME:
    Accreditation Records--VA.

ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES 
OF USERS AND THE PURPOSES OF SUCH USES:
* * * * *
    15. VA may disclose the name, address, date of birth, and any other 
identifying information of any prospective, present, or former 
accredited representative, claims agent, attorney, or individual 
providing representation on a particular claim to a third-party 
individual or entity for the purpose of conducting a background check 
or to obtain information about the individual's present or past 
conduct, activities, licenses, or other information that may have a 
bearing on a determination of the individual's fitness to represent or 
to continue representing claimants before VA.
    16. VA may disclose the name and address of any prospective, 
present, or former accredited representative, claims agent, attorney, 
or individual providing representation on a particular claim who is the 
subject of correspondence, an investigation, or a proceeding relating 
to his or her fitness to represent claimants for VA benefits, and any 
information concerning such individual that relates to unlawful, 
unprofessional, or unethical actions by that individual or to VA's 
possible denial, cancellation,

[[Page 77207]]

suspension, or termination of the individual's VA accreditation, or to 
both, where applicable, to an individual or entity from whom VA has 
received a credible written complaint about the accredited individual's 
fitness to represent VA claimants.
    17. VA may disclose the name and address of any individual (acting 
alone or as part of an organization) not accredited by VA who is the 
subject of correspondence, an investigation, or proceeding relating to 
the legality of representation provided by such individual to claimants 
for VA benefits, and any information concerning such individual that 
relates to unlawful, unprofessional, or unethical actions by that 
individual to an individual or entity from whom VA has received a 
credible written complaint about the legality of representation 
provided by the non-accredited individual.

[FR Doc. 2013-30227 Filed 12-19-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P