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President and CEO

September 18, 2007
Samuel A. Worthington

Chair Electronic Submission via http://www.regulations.gov
Charles MacCormack,
Save the Children
Mr. Philip M. Heneghan
U.S. Agency for International Development
Vice Chair
Ritu Sharma Fox, Chief Privacy Officer
Women’s Edge 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Room 2.12-003
Treasurer
Amy Coen,
Washington, DC 20523-2120
Population Action International
Re: Comments on Federal Register, Vol. 72, No. 139, July 20, 2007
pps. 39768-39770
Board of Directors
Nancy A. Aossey, RIN: 0412-AA61
International Medical Corps Title of Action: Privacy Action of 1974, Implementation of
Kenneth Bacon, Refugees International
David Beckmann, Bread for the World Exemptions/Proposed Rule
Carol Bellamy, World Learning
Sekyu Chang,
Agency: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Korean American Sharing Movement
Julius Coles, Africare
Helene D. Gayle, CARE USA
Anne Lynam Goddard, Christian Children’s Fund Dear Mr. Heneghan:
Lee H. Hamilton,
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Neal Keny-Guyer, Mercy Corps I am writing to you on behalf of InterAction, the largest alliance of
Elizabeth Latham, US Committee for UNDP
Lelei Lelaulu, Counterpart International international humanitarian and development organizations working
Jo Luck, Heifer International
John McCullough, Church World Service
overseas. Our members receive about $7 billion in annual private
Stephen F. Moseley, donations from the American people to support their activities in every
Academy for Educational Development
Daniel E. Pellegrom, Pathfinder International developing country in the world, and approximately half of
Linda Pfeiffer, INMED InterAction’s members are USAID implementing partners.
Robert Radtke,
Episcopal Relief and Development
Yolonda C. Richardson, InterAction submits the following comments on the above-identified
Centre for Development and Population Activities
George Rupp, International Rescue Committee Proposed Rule that would exempt USAID from portions of the Privacy
Zainab Salbi, Women for Women International
Ron Sconyers, Physicians for Peace
Act. We believe the Proposed Rule subverts the purpose and intent of
Kathy Spahn, Helen Keller International the Privacy Act; is not necessary for USAID to fulfill its mission; and
Richard Stearns, World Vision
Tsehaye Teferra, unduly harms those of our members that implement USAID funded
Ethiopian Community Development Council programs.
Sam Worthington (Ex-Officio)

USAID claims in the above-mentioned July 20th Notice that the
1400 16th St., NW Proposed Rule is neither a “significant regulatory action” nor a “major
Suite 210 rule” under the rule-making processes of Executive Order 12866 and
Washington, DC 20036
PHONE: (202) 667-8227
the Congressional Review Act. USAID has not provided any
FAX: (202) 667-8236 information as to how these determinations were made, or their
E-MAIL: ia@interaction.org justification. USAID does not have the authority to unilaterally
http://www.interaction.org
declare that its Proposed Rule is or is not subject to Office of
Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Action
or Congressional review. We cannot see how USAID’s Proposed
Rule, providing USAID with exemptions that virtually eliminate the
civil rights protections under the Privacy Act, is not both a “significant” and “major” rule.

Executive Order 12866 and the Congressional Review Act were enacted to re-establish the
honesty and legality of regulatory review and oversight and where appropriate use consensual
mechanisms for establishing regulations. Publishing the Proposed Rule in the Federal
Register without engaging in any prior consultation with the impacted NGO community
ignores the intent of both Executive Order 12866 and the Congressional Review Act. Little
to no attempt has been made by USAID to explore alternatives to the Partner Vetting System
or the Proposed Rule, despite the outcry from the organizations that will be harmed by the
Partner Vetting System and the Proposed Rule. Nor has USAID provided any reason or
rationale as to why the use of consensual decision-making in the present situation is
inappropriate.

Further, the Proposed Rule establishes exemptions for USAID that are usually reserved for
law enforcement agencies and/or that are necessary to protect national security (such as
military plans or information regarding nuclear weaponry). To the limited extent that USAID
has disclosed the type of information it is seeking to collect, the Partner Vetting System is not
intended to collect information relating to “national security.” Furthermore, as admitted by
USAID in its July 20th Notice, USAID is not a law enforcement agency. Accordingly, the
Proposed Rule provides no statutory basis or detailed information as to why USAID needs
exemptions to which it is not otherwise entitled to implement the Partner Vetting System.

We anticipate that the Proposed Rule will have significant impact on InterAction members’
ability to carry out their operations overseas. As I noted in my letter dated August 17, 2007,
in response to the July 17 Federal Register Notice, implementation of the PVS will
jeopardize the lives of American citizens engaged in humanitarian relief activities abroad.
Reporting requirements that would oblige USAID implementing partners to collect personal
information on citizens of foreign countries to be provided to U.S. intelligence services, and
perhaps their foreign counterparts, increase the risk that our members will be perceived to be
an extension of the U.S. intelligence community and targeted for violence or terrorist attacks.
USAID has not provided any justification or compelling information as to why this Partner
Vetting System or the attendant risk to staff could be warranted.

Until such time as USAID demonstrates that the current systems that prevent the diversion of
USG resources to terrorist organizations are insufficient to ensure its compliance with the
law, and until the agency can demonstrate that it has considered other procedural avenues
before creating such an invasive system of records, there is simply no justification for the
Partner Vetting System. I respectfully request that USAID withdraw its July 17 and July 20
Notices and reconsider the PVS in consultation with InterAction members and the entire
community of implementing partners.

Sincerely,

Samuel A. Worthington
President & CEO
InterAction