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The Data Practices Manual
This manual is not intended to give legal advice. It is designed to provide the reader with a basic understanding of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (the Act), certain rights conferred by the Act and various state and federal laws that interplay with the Act. Laws affecting data practices do change frequently and information provided in this manual may not be timely updated to keep up with these changes. Therefore, please consult with a knowledgeable expert before you take action in reliance on any information provided here.
Purpose of the Data Practices Manual
This manual sets forth the policies and procedures that the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has adopted to ensure compliance with laws governing the practices of sensitive information collected and maintained by the welfare system. This manual also outlines procedures to ensure that individuals and the public have access to appropriate government data. This manual provides guidance on data practices issues, but should not be relied on as definitive legal advice.
What Laws Govern Data Practices
The laws governing data practices are numerous and sometimes in seeming conflict. The two major laws governing data practices are the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, chapter 13), and Minnesota Rules, parts 1205.0100 to 1205.2000. But there are many others as well. With this manual we have attempted to explain the requirements of these laws in a readily understandable and easily accessible format.
Who Must Comply with Government Practices
The policies in this manual apply to all entities under the direct control of the Commissioner of Human Services (See Minnesota Statutes, section 13.46, subdivision 10) including regional treatment centers, state-run nursing homes and persons/entities under contract with the Department of Human Services. The policies in this manual may also provide guidance for other entities that work with the welfare system.
The statewide welfare system probably collects more sensitive information on individuals than any other entity in the state. Individuals can be harmed by the reckless disclosure of information about them, and, accordingly, there are significant penalties under both state and federal laws for government agencies that violate laws designed to protect individuals and groups from such disclosure of information. In addition, individuals and the general public have the right to know how the welfare system is administered. Therefore, it is important that all employees of the welfare system be aware of the requirements of data practices laws and abide by them.
All DHS employees must gain some familiarity with the general data practices concepts outlined in the first major section of this manual. Employees who have questions on data related to specific programs should consult the section on subject matter of data. For more difficult data practices issues employees should consult their supervisor or the Information Privacy Official at:
Information Privacy Official
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