Privacy: Submit a Request for Records

What Privacy Act protected records does MSPB have about me? 

The Board's appellate records are maintained in a system of records subject to the Privacy Act of 1974. MSPB has published System of Records Notices (SORN) for its system of records.  These records are related to MSPB's adjudicatory process and customarily include all of the parties' pleadings – the written submissions that set out their claims, allegations, arguments, and evidence – as well as verbatim hearing records and the notices, orders, and decisions issued by the MSPB.  These records may contain correspondence related to the specific cases, status letters, and requests for access to records.  Access to these records is provided in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act.  The Board's regulations implementing these statutes are at 5 C.F.R. Parts 1204 and 1205, respectively. 

How do I request information about myself? 

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, provides U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens with a right of access to information concerning them that is maintained by any agency in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.  The Act also established controls over what personal information the Federal Government collects and how it uses or discloses that information.  MSPB publishes SORNs that identify its systems of records.

MSPB’s regulations at 5 C.F.R. part 1205 set forth the provisions and procedures for submitting a Privacy Act or Privacy Act amendment request.  Under MSPB’s adjudicatory regulations at 5 C.F.R. part 1201, an appellant or their representative may submit a request for a complete copy of or specific filings in the appellant's MSPB appeal file.  See 5 C.F.R. § 1201.53.  For many recent appeals, a complete copy of an appeal file may be viewed and downloaded by the parties (appellants and active appellant or agency representatives) through the e-Appeal Repository at https://e-appeal.mspb.gov/.  If your entire appeal file is not available electronically through e-Appeal, or you do not wish to use the e-Appeal Repository to access your file, you may submit a written request for a copy of your appeal file by email to records@mspb.gov; fax to (202) 653-7130; or mail to the Office of the Clerk of the Board, Attn: Privacy Act Requests, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20419.  Please include the docket number(s), if possible. Please also specify in your request whether you desire an electronic or paper copy of the case file or particular case file submissions.

If you are seeking records on yourself, you are required to verify your identity. See 5 C.F.R. § 1205.13.  This verification allows MSPB to protect your privacy and ensure that private information about you is not disclosed inappropriately to someone else.  Whenever you request information about yourself you will be asked to provide 1) your address and phone number at the time you filed your MSPB matter, and 2) your current address.  When you submit your request, you must provide your full name and you must also:  (1) have your signature on your request letter witnessed by a notary, or (2) include the following statement immediately above the signature on your request letter:  "I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.  Executed on [date]." Please be aware that we require a live (actual) signature.

If someone is requesting records on your behalf (a third-party request), that requester must submit the same information above in addition to your express written consent for MSPB to release your information. Your consent must include the third-party requester’s full name and contact information, and clearly state what information you wish MSPB to release to the requester. If you or a third party on your behalf requests information about you and does not follow these procedures, your request cannot be processed.

The Privacy Act allows MSPB to assess fees to recover the Government’s cost for duplicating its records.  If the Board determines that the duplication costs will exceed $100, we will contact you for your consent to the charges before providing the records.  To avoid this delay, indicate in your request the maximum amount of fees that you are willing to pay for the records.  The Board will contact you before exceeding that amount.

How do I make a Privacy Act amendment request?

The Privacy Act also allows individuals to submit a request for an “amendment” of a record.  Individuals who know or suspect that information maintained about them in an MSPB system of records is inaccurate, irrelevant, untimely, or incomplete may request that MSPB correct or amend the information.  Only factual information about an individual is subject to correction or amendment; MSPB’s provisions at 5 C.F.R. part 1205 are not intended to permit the alteration of evidence presented in the course of adjudication before MSPB either before or after MSPB has rendered a decision on the appeal.  See 77 Fed Reg. 65206.  Additionally, the Privacy Act does not grant a right to individuals to appeal adjudicatory rulings or determinations made by MSPB concerning them; instead, the Board’s regulations at 5 C.F.R. part 1201 provide options within the adjudicatory framework for individuals who disagree with rulings in their appeals.  

A Privacy Act amendment or correction request must also verify the requester’s identity (see above) and should include:  a statement that the request is made pursuant to the Privacy Act; a detailed description of the information to which the request pertains; and a written statement explaining why the requester believes that the information in question is not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete.  A Privacy Act amendment request and the verification of identity should be sent by email to records@mspb.gov; fax to (202) 653-7130; or mail to the Office of the Clerk of the Board, Attn: Privacy Act Requests, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20419.  

How do I request information about an appellant I represent? 

If you currently represent an appellant or are newly representing an appellant during ongoing proceedings (initial appeal, petition for review, or litigation), you must file a designation of representative in accordance with the Board’s regulations at 5 C.F.R. § 1201.31.  (You may use MSPB’s Designation of Representative form available on our website).  Once your designation of representative is processed by MSPB, you can access the appellant’s case file through the e-Appeal Repository.  For general questions regarding e-Appeal or filing a designation of representative, please contact the appropriate regional or field office or send an email to mspb@mspb.gov.  

If you represent an appellant after the conclusion of MSPB proceedings, or you need copies of pleadings not available through the e-Appeal Repository, you must submit a Privacy Act request on behalf of your client.  Please send an email to records@mspb.gov with your full name and contact information, and explaining that you represent an appellant and that you request a copy of their case file. Please include the MSPB docket number(s), if possible.  Please specify in your request whether you desire an electronic or paper copy of the case file or particular case file submissions.  You also must include your client’s verification of identity and consent to release information to you as specified above.  This allows MSPB to protect the appellant’s privacy and ensure that private information about them is not disclosed inappropriately to someone else.

How do I request an audio hearing file or a transcript?

Most MSPB case files do not contain a transcript.  Rather, the audio file of the hearing, typically prepared by a court reporter, is deemed the official record of the hearing. 5 C.F.R. § 1201.53(a).

Case Party Requests for Hearing Files:

If you are an active case party (appellant, appellant’s representative, or agency representative) requesting an audio hearing file in your case, you may be able to access the hearing audio files for recent cases through the e-Appeal Repository. Please note that while the hearing audio files are available for streaming, they are not available for download at this time.  You may request a copy of the hearing CD by sending an email to records@mspb.gov.  

For a copy of a transcript, if neither party has previously ordered a transcript, then you need to contact the court reporter for the hearing.  You can obtain the court reporter’s information by calling the regional or field office where the case was adjudicated.  The party requesting the transcript bears the cost. If one of the parties (or the administrative judge) previously ordered a transcript, and MSPB received a courtesy copy of the transcript, it should be visible on the index in the e-Appeal Repository under that docket number. If it is visible on the index but is not available for download, please email records@mspb.gov and request a copy.

Third-party Requests for Hearing Files:

If you are not a case party (appellant, appellant’s representative, or agency representative) and would like to request a copy of the hearing file, please submit a FOIA request by using the procedures provided here 5 C.F.R. § 1204.2(c). Entities or organizations who require a copy of a hearing file may qualify for access to a hearing file if there is a routine use permitting release without consent. MSPB/GOVT – 1, Appeals and Case Records, 77 Fed. Reg. 65206 (Oct. 25, 2012). More information about routine use requests is below.

Can I appeal the response to my Privacy Act request? 

You may file an administrative appeal if you are not satisfied with MSPB’s initial response to your Privacy Act request.  You will be advised of your right to file an administrative appeal in the initial response.  All appeals must be made in writing and addressed to the Chairman of the MSPB.  Appeals may be submitted via email to records@mspb.gov; fax to (202) 653-7130; or by mail to:  Chairman, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20419.  The appeal must be postmarked (or in the case of electronic submissions, transmitted) within 90 days after the date of the initial response.

There is no specific form or particular language needed to file an administrative appeal.  You should include the tracking number assigned to your initial request, a copy of your initial request, and MSPB’s initial response.  You should explain what specific action you are appealing, such as MSPB's denial of access (in whole or in part) to requested information; a determination that the requested records do not exist; or a denial of a fee waiver request.

How do I make a routine use request? 

On occasion, Executive Branch departments and agencies, courts, or other entities need access to or a copy of an MSPB appeal file.  As explained above, usage of MSPB’s appeals and case records is governed by MSPB’s System of Records Notice (SORN).  See 77 Fed Reg. 65206.  The MSPB's SORN contains a list of routine uses, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses, for records in this system.  A request by an agency, court, or other entity for access to or a copy of an appeal file pursuant to a routine use must be submitted in writing, describe the routine use that applies for the requested disclosure, and identify the responsible person acting on behalf of the relevant entity.  Requests may be sent via email to records@mspb.gov; fax to (202) 653-7130; or mail to the Office of the Clerk of the Board, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, 1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20419.