In all societies men . . . have lived in the interstices of their institutions. They have counted on the mercy of error, ignorance and forgetfulness in their dealings with their fellows and the state. They have often been wrong in so doing-morally and/or factually. But in a world of computers this mercy may not long exist. All our failings and achievements, our credit-worth and our petty delinquencies, our obedience and our defiance, can live in the constant present of the machine.
Donald G. MacRae, "Introduction" to Spencer's The Man Versus the State.  (Baltimore: Penguin Books), 1969.

IX Action Agenda for the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

The charter directs us to specify the steps that must be taken to put our recommendations into effect. We have done so in this chapter. For each action outlined below, the chapter and pages of the report where the corresponding recommendation is discussed are indicated.


We have made a number of recommendations that require the submission of legislative proposals to the Congress as follows.

Action by the Secretary to initiate these legislative proposals should be taken in concert with the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, as appropriate.

Administrative Action

Many of our recommendations can be implemented by the issuance of regulations or administrative guidelines.

Regulations should be issued:

Administrative guidelines should be issued:

(i) any proposal to create or expand any automated personal data system within the Department (Ch. IV, pp. 5152 ] ;
(ii) any proposal to use administrative personal data for statistical reporting or research [Ch. V, pp. 82-86] ; and
(iii) any proposal that would tend to require the creation or expansion of an automated personal data system outside the Department in response to requirements or needs of programs and activities of the Department [Ch. IV, p. 521.
(i) to undertake a positive program to issue Social Security numbers to ninth-grade students in schools, provided (a) that no school system be induced to cooperate in such a program contrary to its preference; and (b) that any person shall have the right to refuse to be issued a Social Security number in connection with such a program [Ch. VIII, 127-1281;
(ii) to undertake no positive program of issuing Social Security numbers to children below the ninth-grade level [Ch. VIII, p. 1281;
(iii) to limit affirmative measures taken to issue Social Security numbers pursuant to subparagraph (B) (i) (II) of Section 205 (c) (2) of the Social Security Act, as amended by Section 137 of Public Law 92-603, to applicants for or recipients of public assistance benefits supported from Federal funds under the Social Security Act [Ch. VIII, pp. 128-130] ;
(iv) to provide SSN services only to organizations or persons required by Federal law to obtain or record the Social Security number, and then only as necessary to fulfill the
(v) to monitor all future legislative proposals dealing with the Social Security number and to recommend actions to be taken by the Secretary to assure that such proposals will be enacted only after full and careful consideration in well advertised hearings that elicit substantial public participation [Ch. VIII, pp. 129-130].

Additional Action

In addition to the steps necessary to put our recommendations into effect, there are some further steps the Department can take to assure that the goals of the recommendations are fully achieved. These include:

Organizational Responsibility

Responsibility for taking the actions necessary to implement our recommendations will have to be assigned to many officials of the Department who are already burdened with other duties. They will need guidance and assistance. The Secretary will need to designate someone who can devote substantial time and effort to assuring that these actions are taken in a timely and effective fashion. Therefore, an official in the Office of the Secretary should be given responsibility to serve as a combination advisor, monitor, and catalyst to assure that the concerns addressed in this report receive continuing attention, and specifically, to assure that automated personal data systems within the Department, and within grantee and contractor agencies, are operated in accordance with the safeguards we recommend. This official should have adequate authority, staff, and support to conduct these activities effectively.

This official should be directed to embark on a positive program of heightening concern within the Department for the issues raised in this report. This program should reach to all who now do, or are apt in the future, to use, direct, or contribute to the use or development of automated personal data systems, at all Civil Service grade levels and in all operating agencies.

Immediate Action

We expect that the Secretary may wish to have the report reviewed by many key officials of the Department, including the heads of each of the Department's operating agencies. Following such a review, a detailed plan to carry out the foregoing action agenda will have to be formulated.

Once such a plan has been adopted, responsibility will have to be assigned to someone to oversee its execution. To start this process we recommend that the Secretary:

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