H.R. 1617: Department of Homeland Security Component Privacy Officer Act of 2009

H.R. 1617

Department of Homeland Security Component Privacy Officer Act of 2009

March 24, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

H.R. 1617 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Representative Chris Carney (D-PA) on March 19, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 1617 would designate a full-time privacy official at each Department of Homeland Security (DHS) component agency. Each component agency privacy official would have the primary responsibility for implementing DHS' privacy policy and would report directly to the DHS Chief Privacy Officer. H.R. 1617 would require that the privacy official be given access to material and personnel the privacy official deems necessary to carry out his/her responsibilities.


This bill is identical to H.R. 5170, which passed the House by voice vote on July 30, 2008.  The Senate never considered that legislation.

Currently, the Chief Privacy Officer of DHS works with several offices within DHS to help ensure that privacy considerations are integrated into the decision making process for all components of DHS.  These offices include the General Counsel's Office, the Policy Office, and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Some Members may be concerned that this bill is duplicative of current DHS practice.  In November 2007, then-Secretary Chertoff signed a DHS memorandum entitled "Designation of Component Level Privacy Officers."  This Memorandum calls for the designation of full-time component privacy officers at:  CBP, ICE, FEMA, the Bureau of Citizen and Immigration Services, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and the Science and Technology Directorate.  TSA, US-VISIT and Citizen and Immigration Services have had their own privacy officials for some time.  Additionally, requiring a direct report relationship may create an unnecessary level of bureaucracy and present a resource challenge for the Department.  



The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet produced a cost estimate for H.R. 1617, but last year's version was estimated to cost $1 million per year.