Confidentiality Pledge and Laws

The mission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is to collect, process, analyze, and disseminate essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other federal agencies, state and local governments, business, and labor. To maintain credibility and trust with our survey respondents, confidentiality protections for our data are essential. Protecting the confidentiality of data is central to accomplishing the BLS mission.

When collecting data, BLS makes a pledge of confidentiality to its respondents. This pledge varies depending on the context of each survey, but the standard BLS confidentiality pledge promises that data collected are used for statistical purposes only.

Standard BLS Confidentiality Pledge

"The Bureau of Labor Statistics, its employees, agents, and partner statistical agencies, will use the information you provide for statistical purposes only and will hold the information in confidence to the full extent permitted by law. In accordance with the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (Title 5 of Public Law 107-347) and other applicable Federal laws, your responses will not be disclosed in identifiable form without your informed consent. Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, Federal information systems are protected from malicious activities through cybersecurity screening of transmitted data."

Laws

Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 Note) states that information acquired by BLS for exclusively statistical purposes under a pledge of confidentiality must be used by BLS employees and agents for statistical purposes only. CIPSEA further states that any BLS employee or agent, who knowingly and willfully discloses identifiable respondent information to someone not authorized to receive it, is subject to imprisonment for not more than 5 years and fines of not more than $250,000, or both. Each year, BLS produces a report on our implementation of CIPSEA.

Although CIPSEA is the main law governing BLS confidentiality, several other laws also play a role in ensuring confidentiality of BLS data.

Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a (b)) prohibits a federal agency from disclosing information about an individual without the written consent of that individual. In accordance with the Privacy Act, BLS holds all personal identifiers such as names, addresses, and social security numbers in confidence.

The Workforce Investment Act or Wagner-Peyser Act(29 U.S.C. 49l-2(a)(2)) provides that employment data submitted to BLS for exclusively statistical purposes be held in confidence. This Act further provides that confidential employment data maintained by BLS is immune from the legal process.

The Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C. 1905) provides that the United States government may not disclose the confidential statistical data of any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or association. Any government employee charged with violation of this Act could be discharged, fined, and imprisoned.

In addition to the laws discussed above, BLS employees are guided by internal policies and procedures with respect to safeguarding confidential data. If you have any questions or want more information about data confidentiality, please email pledge@bls.gov.

Last Modified Date: February 16, 2018