Administrative Law Judge/Public Alleged Misconduct Complaints (ALJ/PAMC) System

EFFECTIVE DATE:  March 14, 2010

75 F.R. 8171

Social Security Administration (SSA)

Notice of New System of Records

Required by the Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended

System number:  60-0356.

System name:  Administrative Law Judge/Public Alleged Misconduct Complaints (ALJ/PAMC) System.

Security classification:  None.

System location:  All SSA Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) regional offices and the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge in Falls Church, Virginia.

Categories of individuals covered by the system:  Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) accused of misconduct or bias in connection with processing a claimant’s case and the claimant who was the subject of the alleged misconduct or bias.  If the claimant’s advocate or representative files a complaint that an ALJ is biased against him or her, it may also cover a claimant’s advocate or representative.

Categories of records in the system:  Information derived from complaints filed against ALJs; the information we gather in processing, reviewing, or investigating such complaints; the results of the review or investigation; case analyses; the information related to the hearing office, the regional office, and the ALJ’s duty station; information related to the alleged complaint; the Federal court, if a complaint is raised at the Federal court level; and copies of relevant correspondence.  The ALJ/PAMC system may contain the following information about the claimant who filed the complaint:  name, Social Security number (SSN), date of birth, address, and relevant claims-related information.  In addition, the ALJ/PAMC system may contain information regarding the claimant’s gender and race or ethnic background, if that information is provided and is a basis for the complaint.  The ALJ/PAMC system may contain information related to the claimant’s advocate or representative that is derived from the complaint (e.g., name, gender, race and/or ethnic background, if provided and it is a basis for the complaint).  The ALJ/PAMC system may also contain the following information about the ALJ associated with the complaint:  name, ALJ assigned number, and our assigned tracking and control log numbers. 

Authority for maintenance of the system:  Sections 205 and 1631(d)(1) of the Social Security Act, as amended. 

Purpose(s):  We will use the information covered by the system of records to manage and monitor complaints filed against ALJs.  The information will:

·         provide us with information to manage and respond to complaints, which in turn will help us monitor and improve customer service and reduce manual work;

·         provide us with information to process, review, or investigate complaints filed;

·         provide us with information related to the complaint, including the name of the claimant and other identifying information, the name of the claimant’s advocate or representative, if any, and information about the ALJ who allegedly committed misconduct; and

·         provide us with management information to document, monitor, and track ALJ complaints, to identify patterns of improper ALJ behavior that may require further review and action, and to assist us in deterring recurring incidences of ALJ bias or misconduct.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purpose of such uses:  Routine use disclosures are as indicated below. 

1.      To the Office of the President in response to an inquiry from that office made at the request of the subject of the record or a third party on that person’s behalf.    

2.      To a congressional office in response to an inquiry from that office made at the request of the subject of a record or a third party on that person’s behalf.  

3.      To the Department of Justice (DOJ), a court, other tribunal, or another party before such court or tribunal when:

a)   the agency or any of our components;

b)   any agency employee in his or her official capacity;

c)   any agency employee in his or her individual capacity when DOJ (or the agency when we are authorized to do so) has agreed to represent the employee; or

d)   the United States or any agency thereof when we determine that the litigation is likely to affect our operations or any of our components,

is party to litigation or has an interest in such litigation, and we determine that the use of such records by DOJ, a court, other tribunal, or another party before such court or tribunal is relevant and necessary to the litigation.  In each case, however, we must determine that such disclosure is compatible with the purpose for which we collected the records.  

4.      To student volunteers, persons working under a personal services contract, and others who are not technically Federal employees, when they need access to information in our records in order to perform their assigned agency duties.

5.      To the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when they request information in connection with an investigation into alleged or possible discriminatory practices in the Federal sector, examination of Federal affirmative employment programs, compliance by Federal agencies with the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, or other functions vested in the Commission.

6.      To the Federal Labor Relations Authority, the General Counsel, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Federal Service Impasses Panel, or an arbitrator when information is requested in connection with investigations of allegations of unfair practices or of other matters before an arbitrator or the Federal Service Impasses Panel.

7.      To the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, or the Office of Special Counsel when they request information in connection with appeals, special studies of the civil service and other merit systems, review of those agencies’ rules and regulations, investigation of alleged or possible prohibited personnel practices, and for other such functions of these agencies as may be authorized by law.

8.      To Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and private security contractors, as appropriate, information necessary:
a.      to enable them to ensure the safety of our employees and customers, the security 
      of our workplace, and the operation of our facilities; or 
b.      to assist investigations or prosecutions with respect to activities that affect such 
      safety and security or activities that disrupt the operation of our facilities. 
 
9.      To contractors and other Federal agencies, as necessary, to assist us in efficiently administering our programs.

10.  To the appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies, entities, and persons when:  (1) we suspect or confirm that the security or confidentiality of information in this system of records has been compromised; (2) we determine that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, risk of identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of this system or our other systems or programs that rely upon the compromised information; and (3) we determine that disclosing the information to such agencies, entities, and persons is necessary to assist in our efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm.  We will use this routine use to respond only to those incidents involving an unintentional release of our records.   

11.  To a Federal, State, and local professional licensing boards, at our initiative or at the request of the licensing board, when such records indicate a violation of ethical conduct by a current or former employee who is seeking to be licensed or is licensed before the professional board.

12.  To a Federal or State agency in response to its request, or at our initiation, in connection with decisions to hire an employee, issue a security clearance, conduct a security or suitability investigation of a person, classify a job, award a contract , or regarding the requesting agency’s decision to issue a license, grant, or other benefit.  We may disclose for lawful statutory administrative or investigative purpose to the extent that the information is relevant and necessary to the requesting agency’s decision.

13.  To officials of labor organizations recognized under 5 U.S.C. chapter 71 when relevant and necessary to their duties of exclusive representation concerning personnel policies, practices, and matters affecting conditions of employment. 

14.  To the General Services Administration and the National Archives Records Administration ( NARA) under 44 U.S.C. §§ 2904 and 2906, as amended by the NARA Act, information that is not restricted from disclosure by Federal law for their use in conducting records management studies.

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

Storage:   We will store records covered by the ALJ/PAMC system of records in electronic and paper form. 

Retrievability:  We will retrieve information covered by the ALJ/PAMC system of records by: 

·         the name of the ALJ who is the subject of the complaint, the ALJ’s assigned numerical identifier, and the hearing or regional office where the ALJ is stationed;

·         the claimant’s name, SSN, date of birth, address, gender, and race or ethnic background, if the information is available;

·         the advocate’s or representative’s name, if any, and any other identifiable information pertaining to the complaint filed;

·         our assigned tracking numbers, and other complaint and claims-related information;

·         the congressional office associated with the complaint, if any; and

·         the Appeals Council’s code.  

Safeguards:  We will keep paper records in locked cabinets or in other secure areas.  We will safeguard the security of the information by requiring the use of access codes to enter the computer system that will maintain the data, and will store computerized records in secure storage areas accessible only to our authorized employees and contractors who require the information to perform their official duties. 

We annually provide all our employees and contractors with appropriate security awareness and training that includes reminders about the need to protect personally identifiable information and the criminal penalties that apply to unauthorized access to, or disclosure of, personally identifiable information.  See 5 U.S.C. § 552a(i)(1).  Furthermore, employees and contractors with access to databases maintaining personally identifiable information must annually sign a sanction document, acknowledging their accountability for inappropriately accessing or disclosing such information.

Retention and disposal: We will maintain records at all agency ODAR regional offices and the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge in Falls Church, Virginia.  We will delete or destroy records seven years after the date of the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge’s finding regarding the complaint, unless a special situation occurs.  This seven-year requirement, which can be found in schedule N1-47-01, is consistent with the amount of time that we maintain most disability claim files.

Special Situation – The following examples are situations in which we will maintain information beyond the scheduled period for destruction:

·         Fraud, waste, abuse, or misuse – We will not destroy information where we identify possible fraud, waste, abuse, or misuse or information involving investigations of fraud, waste, abuse, or misuse, until the Office of the Inspector General provides approval to dispose of such information.

·         Disciplinary action – We will not destroy information related to ALJ disciplinary action until the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge provides approval to dispose of such information.

System manager(s) and address:  Director, Division of Quality Services, Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, Social Security Administration, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 1608, Falls Church, Virginia 22041.

Notification procedures:  Persons can determine if this system contains a record about them by writing to the system manager at the above address and providing their name, SSN, or other information in this system of records that will identify them.  Persons requesting notification by mail must include a notarized statement to us to verify their identity or must certify in the request that they are the person they claim to be and that they understand that the knowing and willful request for, or acquisition of, a record pertaining to another person under false pretenses is a criminal offense. 

Persons requesting notification of records in person must provide the same information, as well as provide an identity document, preferably with a photograph, such as a driver's license.  Persons lacking identification documents sufficient to establish their identity must certify in writing that they are the person they claim to be and that they understand that the knowing and willful request for, or acquisition of, a record pertaining to another person under false pretenses is a criminal offense.

Persons requesting notification by telephone must verify their identity by providing identifying information that parallels the information in the record about which they are requesting notification.  If we determine that the identifying information the person provides by telephone is insufficient, we will require the person to submit a request in writing or in person.  If a person requests information by telephone on behalf of another person, the subject person must be on the telephone with the requesting person and us in the same phone call.  We will establish the subject person’s identity (his or her name, SSN, address, date of birth, and place of birth, along with one other piece of information such as mother's maiden name) and ask for his or her consent to provide information to the requesting person.  These procedures are in accordance with our regulations

at 20 C.F.R. §§ 401.40 and 401.45.

Record access procedures:  Same as notification procedures.  Persons should also reasonably specify the record contents they are seeking.  These procedures are in accordance with our regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 401.40(c).

Contesting record procedures:  Same as notification procedures.  Persons should also reasonably identify the record, specify the information they are contesting, and state the corrective action sought and the reasons for the correction with supporting justification showing how the record is incomplete, untimely, inaccurate, or irrelevant.  These procedures are in accordance with our regulations (20 C.F.R. § 401.65(a)).

Record source categories

We obtain records covered by the ALJ/PAMC system from the:

·         complaint filed by the claimant or his or her advocate or representative, if any;

·         information we receive from a congressional office regarding a claimant and a particular ALJ;

·         documentation that we develop during our review or investigation of a complaint; and

·         Appeals Council.

Exemptions claimed for the system:  None.