On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the “Federal Privacy Council,” an interagency council of senior officials from each of 24 federal departments and agencies. The Council is to be the “principal interagency forum to improve the Government privacy practices of agencies and entities acting on their behalf.”  The Council will be chaired by the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Order tasks the heads of each department or agency, within 120 days, to designate (or re-designate) a Senior Agency Official for Privacy “with the experience and skills necessary to manage an agency-wide privacy program.” In addition to their roles within their respective agencies, these Senior Agency Officials will also comprise the membership of the new Federal Privacy Council. The Order expressly requires representation of the following departments and agencies on the Council:

  • Department of State;
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Small Business Administration
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Agency for International Development
  • General Services Administration
  • National Science Foundation
  • Office of Personnel Management; and
  • National Archives and Records Administration

The Council’s chief functions will be to (1) develop recommendations for OMB on privacy policies and requirements for the Federal Government; (2) coordinate and share best practices among the agencies in the area of data privacy and security; (3) make recommendations on the Federal Government’s hiring, training, and professional development needs in the area of privacy; and (4) perform such other functions as the Chair may designate.  The Council is also tasked with coordinating with the Federal Chief Information Officers Council to promote consistency and efficiency in privacy and information security across the executive branch of government.

The establishment of the Federal Privacy Council is part of the President’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan, which also includes a multi-billion dollar fund to support much-needed modernization and improvements to the Federal Government’s IT infrastructure.