3-2 Maintaining a System of Records

3-2.1 Policy

In general, when the Postal Service maintains, collects, uses, or disseminates information on individuals (“personal information”), such information must be covered by a “System of Records.” The term System of Records (SOR) is a formal legal concept grounded in the Privacy Act that is distinct from a similar term used in the field of data management. The Postal Service must advise the public about each SOR it has established by publishing a notice in the Federal Register. The Postal Service also publishes descriptions of its SORs in the Appendix to this handbook. Personal information can only be used by the Postal Service (or its agents or suppliers acting on behalf of the Postal Service) for the purposes that are listed in the SOR.

The Postal Service has published several SORs that are organized based on the subject matter of the personal information the organization is maintaining (e.g., personnel records, customer change-of-address records). Each SOR contains the following information:

Most, but not all, Postal Service records that contain personal information must be “covered” by an SOR, regardless of whether the information is in hard copy or electronic format. Additionally, a single SOR can encompass multiple, separate groupings or collections of records. If you are unsure whether the records you maintain are covered by an SOR, reference the Appendix or the associated records control schedule. Records control schedules can be found in ERIMS (https://erims.usps.gov/erims/erims). The Privacy and Records Management Office can assist you in determining which, if any, SOR applies or whether a new SOR should be created or an existing SOR modified.