Washington residents' personal information now kept secret

“Seventy-four state agencies and institutions are complying with Gov. Gary Locke’s executive order issued in April. The agencies are endeavoring to protect personal information about Washington citizens as fully as possible while complying with public disclosure laws. A final report was released detailing the strong response from the agencies. The explosion of computerized data bases around the world requires that we protect personal information, such as Social Security numbers, as fully as possible, Locke said. At the same time, we will continue to make public information about state government and its operations available as quickly and conveniently as possible.Locke said 74 agencies, colleges and other state institutions have reported they have complied fully or partially with the executive order.These include all 28 cabinet agencies as well as 46 others which include independent boards and commissions, higher education institutions and Locke said some large agencies need more time to complete reviewing many hundreds of records that may contain private information.Highlights of the report include:l A Department of Information Services model Internet privacy policy has been posted on the web sites of 57 state agencies.l Fifty-nine agencies have procedures and practices for handling and disposing sensitive personal information.l Fifty agencies now have public notices telling citizens what personal information may be disclosed as a public record, the circumstances under which disclosure may occur and procedures by which individuals may review and correct records.l Forty-eight agencies have removed Social Security numbers from their forms and documents that may be viewed by the public.The Department of Personnel has removed Social Security numbers and personal bank account numbers from state employees’ paychecks.l Sixteen agencies have modified all their contracts with private firms for sharing personal information to ensure it is protected. Other agencies are in the process of changing contracts to ensure private information is protected.Locke requested the agencies provide periodic updates because he believes good management requires regular milestones and measures of results. The report is on the governor’s homepage: www.governor.wa.gov/recpriv/recprivcont2.htm. “