3-4.1 Requests to Access Information

The following procedures govern customer, employee, or individual requests about whether the Postal Service maintains information about them and requests to access that information, as well as Postal Service responses to such requests.

  1. How to Request Information. Customers, employees, or other individuals should follow these procedures to request information about themselves.
    1. General. Customers, employees, or other individuals who want to know whether the Postal Service maintains information about them in a system of records and obtain access to that information, should follow the procedures described in the applicable system of records. The procedures for each system of records are listed in the Appendix. A records custodian may require appropriate identification and, when deemed appropriate, request that individuals provide either a notarized statement or a statement signed under penalty of perjury stating that they are the person they claim to be.
    2. Where to direct the request. Direct the request to the records custodian, if known, or to the manager of the Records Office, at the address in section 1-4.2.5. Direct requests for records maintained by the Postal Inspection Service or the Office of Inspector General to the addresses in sections 1-4.2.12 and
      1-4.2.13. Employee requests to review or copy a record should be made to the installation where the record is kept. Employees requesting retired official personnel folders (OPFs) may direct the request to any office and specify the installation where review is desired. Headquarters employees should direct requests to:
      475 L’ENFANT PLAZA SW, ROOM 1831
      WASHINGTON, DC 20260

    4. Content of request. The requester should clearly mark the request “Privacy Act Request” and:
      1. Specify the information sought and include other information as required by the applicable system of records (in Appendix).
      2. Specify the system of records by name or number, as shown in the Appendix, or otherwise reasonably identify the system of records.
      3. Provide enough information to identify the requester and to identify and locate the record.
      4. Include any other relevant information, such as preferences as to where and how to receive the information.
    5. Customers registered on usps.com. Customers that are registered users on usps.com may access their personal profile by logging into their account with their user name and password.
  2. Responding to Requests:
    1. Determine Sufficiency of Request. Before disclosing any records, including whether records exist, the custodian should review the sufficiency of the request. Oral requests for records that are available to the public under section 4-4 may be answered by telephone. All other requests must be made in person or in writing and follow the procedures in section 3-4.1a. The custodian must seek clarification from the requester if the information supplied to locate and identify the record is insufficient. Misdirected requests must be forwarded to the appropriate location with a copy of the referral to the requester.
    2. Respond to the Requester. Custodians must acknowledge requests for records within 10 days (excluding weekends and federal holidays) of receipt. Custodians should date stamp the request upon receipt. If requested records are not immediately available, the custodian must give the requester a date of availability. If records cannot be found or have been destroyed, the custodian must inform the requester.
    3. Provide Records. Once records are located, provide them to the requester as soon as practical, unless they should be withheld under section 3-4.1b(6). The custodian must provide releasable records to the requester in writing or in person as follows:
      1. In writing: Send the requested information or copies of records to the requester via Certified Mail™, return receipt service requested, as soon as any required fees or statement of release are received.
      2. In person: Notify the requester when and where records will be available for inspection or copying, and comply with the requester’s instructions if feasible. When a requester reviews records in person, the custodian or designee must be present and observe the requester’s handling of the records. The custodian or designee must do the following:
    4. Additional instructions for response to employee requests. Records are usually available for inspection and copying during regular business hours at the installation where the records are kept. The custodian may, however, designate other reasonable locations and times for inspection and copying of some or all of the records. Employees who want to review or copy their own records must do so on their own time, except as provided for under collective bargaining agreements.
    5. Forward requests for a retired OPF to the installation indicated by the requester, or as determined by the custodian to the nearest postal facility. The custodian at the installation where the review is to take place must determine if the information is releasable under section 3-4.1b(6). If releasable, the custodian can obtain the OPF by sending an SF 127, Request for Official Personnel Folder, to:

      ST. LOUIS, MO 63118

      When the custodian receives the OPF, the custodian must notify the requester that the information is available for review. After the requester reviews the OPF and there is a need for further review, the custodian may keep the files at the designated facility for a maximum of 30 days. If there is no further need to retain the files, the custodian must return the OPF by Registered Mail™ to the National Personnel Records Center.

    6. Additional Instructions for response to customer requests. Customers must be given access to their information maintained by the Postal Service, except for confidential business data created by the Postal Service or derived from third parties, or if exempt under section 3-4.1b(6).
    7. Denying Requests. The Postal Service may only deny customer, employee, or individual requests to know whether the Postal Service maintains records about them, and⁄or to obtain access to those records, if the requester does not follow procedures in section 3-4.1, or if the information is exempt under section
      3-4.1b(7). The custodian must consult with appropriate counsel before denying a request. Denials must be in writing and signed by the custodian or designee. The document must state the reasons for the denial and advise the requester of the right to appeal to the general counsel. See section 3-4.3.
    8. Exceptions to Release of Information. The following information may not be released in response to customer, employee, or other individual requests for information about themselves.
      1. Confidential Sources. Information that identifies an individual who has requested and has been expressly promised anonymity in providing information to the Postal Service. This exception applies only to Postal Inspection Service records (which may be disclosed only on the authority of the chief postal inspector); preemployment investigation records; recruiting, examining, training, and placement records; equal employment opportunity discrimination complaint investigations and counseling records; and postmaster selection records.
      2. Civil Actions. Records compiled in reasonable anticipation of a civil action or proceeding such as a lawsuit or administrative hearing.
      3. Law Enforcement. Records of disclosures of information to law enforcement agencies.
      4. Testing Material. Information within records that might compromise testing or examination materials.
      5. Registers. Registers for positions to be filled. (On written request, an individual may be told whether prospects for appointment are good, fair, or unfavorable.)
      6. Medical Records. Medical or psychological records (including those received from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Public Health Service, or Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs) when the medical officer determines that disclosure could have an adverse effect on the subject individual. These records may be made available to a physician designated in writing by the individual. In such cases, an accounting of disclosure must be filed. See section 3-5.5; also see 39 CFR 266.6(b)(4).
      7. Uncirculated Supervisors’ Notes. Information about individuals in the form of uncirculated personal notes kept by Postal Service personnel, such as employees, supervisors, counselors, or investigators, which are not circulated to other persons. If notes are circulated, they become official records in a system of records and must be shown on request to the employee to whom they pertain. Official evaluations, appraisals, or estimates of potential must be made available to the employee to whom they pertain.
      8. National Agency Checks. Results of national agency checks and written inquiry investigations (NACI) conducted by the Office of Personnel Management. Advise individuals requesting NACI records to send their requests to:
        PO BOX 618
        BOYERS, PA 16018

      10. Exempt Systems of Records. Information contained in any system of records that is exempt from disclosure as allowed by the Privacy Act. Exempt systems of records are listed in the Appendix.
    9. Recording Responses. For requests from individuals, the custodian must complete PS Form 8170, Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Request Report, in accordance with section 4-8. The custodian must also keep an accounting of the disclosure in accordance with section 3-5.5.

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