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114th Congress    }                                      {      Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                      {     114-789

======================================================================

 
    TO RESTRICT THE INCLUSION OF SOCIAL SECURITY ACCOUNT NUMBERS ON 
    DOCUMENTS SENT BY MAIL BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AND FOR OTHER 
                                PURPOSES

                                _______
                                

 September 26, 2016.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Chaffetz, from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3779]

    The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 3779) to restrict the inclusion of 
social security account numbers on documents sent by mail by 
the Federal Government, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Committee Statement and Views....................................     1
Section-by-Section...............................................     3
Explanation of Amendments........................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Roll Call Votes..................................................     3
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch.....................     3
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the 
  Committee......................................................     4
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     4
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     4
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     4
Federal Advisory Committee Act...................................     4
Unfunded Mandate Statement.......................................     4
Earmark Identification...........................................     4
Committee Estimate...............................................     5
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate...     5

                     Committee Statement and Views


                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 3779, to restrict the inclusion of Social Security 
account numbers on documents sent by mail from the Federal 
Government, would prevent federal agencies from sending an 
individual's Social Security Number (SSN) through the mail 
unless the head of the agency determined the inclusion of the 
SSN is necessary.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Identity theft is a major concern for all Americans. 
According to the Federal Trade Commission, instances of 
identity theft have steadily risen, increasing from 209,102 
cases in 2013, to 490,220 cases in 2015\1\ A major driver of 
identity theft is the unauthorized acquisition and fraudulent 
use of Social Security Numbers (SSNs). SSNs are required not 
only of individuals seeking to collect Social Security 
benefits, but also those wishing to receive certain government 
services or apply for services in the private sector such as 
bank accounts or credit cards.\2\ The Social Security 
Administration counsels individuals to keep their SSNs 
confidential because of the risk of misuse should they fall 
into the wrong hands.\3\ The misuse of a SSN risks causing 
significant disruptions for its rightful holder.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 
for January-December 2015, at 79 (February 2016).
    \2\Social Security Administration, Your Social Security Number and 
Card, at 2 (January 2016--Publication No. EN-05-10002).
    \3\Id., at 11.
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    Many federal agencies, including all 24 agencies subject to 
the Chief Financial Officers Act,\4\ require SSNs in order to 
verify the identity of individuals requesting services or for 
other purposes.\5\ In 2007, the Office of Management and Budget 
sent a memorandum to federal agencies ordering them to review 
and eliminate the unnecessary use of SSNs.\6\ A recent report 
by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 
(Committee) on data breaches at the Office of Personnel 
Management further recommended that all agencies reduce the use 
of SSNs to mitigate the risk of identity theft.\7\ Notably, the 
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is in the midst of 
a study to ascertain the extent to which agencies have complied 
with the memorandum, but GAO's preliminary review revealed that 
plans to reduce the use of SSNs vary widely across the 
government.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\These agencies are Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, 
Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland 
Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Justice, Labor, 
State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, in addition 
to the U.S. Agency for International Development, Environmental 
Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Personnel Management, Small 
Business Administration, and the Social Security Administration.
    \5\Briefing by John de Ferrari, et. al., Gov't Accountability 
Office, to H. Comm. on Oversight & Gov't Reform and H. Comm. on Ways & 
Means Majority Staff (Sept. 7, 2016).
    \6\Memorandum from Clay Johnson III, Deputy Director for 
Management, Office of Management and Budget, to Heads of Executive 
Dep'ts and Agencies, Safeguarding Against and Responding to the Breach 
of Personally Identifiable Information (May 22, 2007).
    \7\H. Comm. of Oversight & Gov't Reform, Staff Report: The OPM Data 
Breach: How the Gov't Jeopardized Our National Security for More than a 
Generation at 21 (Sept. 7, 2016).
    \8\John de Ferrari, et. al., supra note 5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Currently, agencies are not banned from including SSNs on 
correspondence sent to individuals via the U.S. Postal Service. 
The inclusion of a SSN on correspondence increases the risk 
that the SSN may be stolen. Given the extent to which federal 
departments and agencies collect SSNs, it is important that all 
departments and agencies take measures to ensure that SSNs are 
appropriately protected. To achieve this end, H.R. 3779 would 
prohibit sending a SSN via mail unless the agency determines 
doing so is necessary. If it is determined that the inclusion 
of the SSN is necessary, the agency would be required to 
consider the use of partial redactions.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    H.R. 3779 was introduced on October 21, 2015 by 
Representative David Valadao (R-CA) and referred to the 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. On September 15, 
2016, the Committee ordered H.R. 3779 favorably reported by 
unanimous consent, without amendment.

                           Section-by-Section


Section 1. Restriction of SSNs on documents sent by mail

    Prohibits any department or agency of the federal 
government from including the SSN of any individual on any 
document sent by mail unless the head of the department or 
agency determines that the inclusion of the SSN is necessary.
    Orders the head of each federal department or agency to 
issue regulations within one year of the bill's enactment that 
specify the circumstances under which SSNs are necessary to be 
sent by mail.
    The regulations must provide instructions for the partial 
redaction of SSNs whenever feasible and include a ban on 
sending any package by mail with a visible SSN.
    Provides an effective date that is one year after the date 
of enactment of the bill.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    No amendments to H.R. 3779 were offered or adopted during 
Full Committee consideration of the bill.

                        Committee Consideration

    On September 15, 2016, the Committee met in open session 
and ordered the bill, H.R. 3779, favorably reported by 
unanimous consent, a quorum being present.

                            Roll Call Votes

    No roll call votes were requested or conducted during Full 
Committee consideration of H.R. 3779.

              Application of Law to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of 
employment or access to public services and accommodations. 
H.R. 3779 would prevent federal agencies from sending an 
individual's Social Security Number (SSN) through the mail 
unless the head of the agency determined the inclusion of the 
SSN is necessary. As such, this bill does not relate to 
employment or access to public services and accommodations.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goal and objective of the bill is to restrict the inclusion of 
social security account numbers on documents sent by mail by 
the Federal Government.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of this bill establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the federal government known to be duplicative of 
another federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from GAO to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public 
Law 111-139, or a program related to a program identified in 
the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    The Committee estimates that enacting this bill does direct 
the completion of a specific rule making within the meaning of 
5 U.S.C. 551. H.R. 3779 directs all federal agencies and 
departments to issue regulations within one year of the 
enacting date specifying the circumstances under which 
inclusion of a Social Security Number (SSN) on a document sent 
by mail is necessary. Such regulations must include 
instructions for the partial redaction of SSNs whenever 
feasible and a requirement that SSNs be not visible on the 
outside of any package sent by mail.

                     Federal Advisory Committee Act

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not establish 
or authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within 
the definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandate Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement as to 
whether the provisions of the reported bill include unfunded 
mandates. In compliance with this requirement, the Committee 
has received a letter from the Congressional Budget Office 
included herein.

                         Earmark Identification

    This bill does not include any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI.

                           Committee Estimate

    At the time of this writing, the Committee had yet to 
receive a formal cost estimate from the Congressional Budget 
Office for H.R. 3779. However, preliminary analysis by 
committee staff suggests that the bill would provide for no 
significant budgetary effects.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has not 
received a cost estimate for this bill from the Director of 
Congressional Budget Office, and instead has included a 
committee estimate in the section prior to this one.

                                 [all]