The Close Call Data Program (CCDP) is supported by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. As a federal statistical agency, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) must meet its mission requirements to collect and disseminate high quality transportation information while upholding its legal and ethical obligations to respect the privacy of those who have provided that information.
When BTS collects transportation information for a statistical purpose under a pledge of confidentiality, BTS is required by law to protect that information. Close call reporters and other respondents must be able to trust that the information they provide to BTS is protected and not subject to unauthorized disclosure. To maintain this trust, BTS implements confidentiality procedures that protect individually identifiable information.
BTS Confidentiality Procedures
BTS takes privacy laws and its ethical obligations to protect information very seriously. BTS has standardized confidentiality procedures in place throughout the agency to make sure respondents’ data is protected and secured. BTS does not disclose your personal information to any unauthorized person.
Standards in place that protect your personal information include:
- security measures that block outside access to any confidential information stored on BTS computers
- a requirement that all BTS employees and contractors sign a nondisclosure agreement that makes them subject to several laws providing stiff penalties (including jail time) for the unauthorized release of confidential information
- confidentiality training for all employees and contractors on an annual basis
- random inspections that make sure all employees and contractors observe all information security protocols and confidentiality procedures
- deletion of names, addresses, and/or any other items that could directly identify an individual or business from BTS data files
- application of disclosure limitation methods before releasing any data so no confidential information about individuals or businesses can be inferred from released data
CIPSEA: Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act
BTS is authorized by law, 49 U.S.C. 111(c)(2), to collect transportation information for its programs, including CCDP. The BTS confidentiality statute, 49 U.S.C. 111(i), and CIPSEA protect the information BTS collects. These laws make sure that any identifying, sensitive, or proprietary information that BTS collects is not released to unauthorized persons or organizations.
In 2003, BTS hosted confidentiality seminars in response to the passage of CIPSEA.
When collecting or acquiring information for a statistical purpose under CIPSEA, BTS:
- must use a pledge of confidentiality
- must protect the information
- cannot allow unauthorized access to the information
- may share the information for statistical purposes if the respondent consents, and then only under a written agreement signed by the director of BTS
- makes sure any party or agent receiving released confidential information pledges confidentiality, becoming subject to the restrictions and penalties provided in CIPSEA
- enforces that employees, contractors, and agents are subject to felony charges and fines for knowingly disclosing confidential information (5 years prison and/or $250,000 fine)
- cannot release the information under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request
BTS uses a pledge of confidentiality when collecting or acquiring any information for statistical purposes. This is a guarantee that BTS will only use the information it collects for statistical purposes and actively protects the information from unauthorized disclosure and use.
Disclosure Limitation Methods
The BTS Disclosure Review Board (DRB) reviews information products for disclosures of confidential information before disseminating them to the public. To protect the confidentiality of data, the DRB requires the application of disclosure limitation methods to information products. BTS does this to prevent anyone from using published statistical data to identify an individual or business that has provided confidential information. These disclosure limitation methods modify or remove the characteristics that can put information at risk for disclosure.
BTS sometimes releases microdata files that contain individuals’ responses. All individual identifiers, like your name and address, are removed from these records. BTS also changes unique characteristics (for example, high levels of income) through disclosure limitation methods. BTS restricts geographic identifiers, such as the name of a city, so populations are composed of at least 100,000 people. For tables of data, BTS takes steps to disguise or suppress the original data to ensure confidentiality.
Do you have questions about keeping your information confidential?
Do you have comments or concerns?
Please contact the BTS Confidentiality Officer:
E-mail: [email protected]