It is Department of the Navy (DON) policy to reduce or eliminate the use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) wherever possible. The SSN is one of the key personal identifiers used to commit identity fraud.
The Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) is responsible for handling a large volume of personally identifiable information (PII) in the daily processing of personnel transactions supporting all Navy uniformed members. It is the responsibility of every employee to protect the personal information of our enlisted and officer personnel. Protecting this information is paramount to the BUPERS mission.
The ongoing efforts of the BUPERS Privacy Cadre to reduce the use of the SSN were highlighted in the 2016 January-March edition of CHIPS, featuring examples where the SSN was eliminated from several BUPERS processes.
This article reports on another BUPERS process — the Physical Readiness Information Management System — in which the use of the SSN has been eliminated, reducing the potential impact a data loss or compromise would have on our Sailors.
The Physical Readiness Information Management System (PRIMS) provides a standardized, authoritative database to monitor and track the physical fitness progress of Navy active duty and Reserve personnel. PRIMS is used to identify, screen, train, educate, counsel, monitor and rehabilitate members who did not meet the Navy’s Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) standards.
When PRIMS was initially developed, the SSN was used to uniquely identify Sailors and could be found in search features, reports, screen pages and forms. Because of privacy concerns, programmatic changes were made that removed the SSN from over 60 reports, all screen pages and three PRIMS related forms. Authorized PRIMS users are still able to search for an individual using the full or truncated SSN as well as the DoD ID number. However, search criteria are now masked and no longer visible on the screen.
This successful SSN reduction story is another example of how IT systems supporting our business processes can be modified to better protect sensitive information while continuing to meet mission requirements.
Additional information on the DON SSN Reduction Program can be found on the DON CIO website at www.doncio.navy.mil.