The Privacy Act (PA) protects an individual's privacy by putting controls on federal agencies in the collection, use, maintenance, and dissemination of personal information. In addition, it entitles individuals to access federal agency records or to request an amendment to records that are maintained in a file retrievable by an individual's name or personal identifier, except to the extent that the information is exempt from release. Individual, in the context of the Privacy Act, is defined as a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
The Privacy Act also requires that agency records be accurate, relevant, timely, and complete, and amendments are limited to these criteria. however, amendments are normally restricted to correcting factual errors and not matters of official judgments, such as performance ratings, or subjective judgments that reflect an individual's observation, evaluation, or opinion.