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Privacy Act of 1974: New System of Records

Publication Date
Resource type
Federal Register Documents
Comment Request
Comment Period End Date

Pursuant to the provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular No. A–108, notice is given that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing to add a new system of records, entitled USDA/FNS–13, Mercury (“Mercury”), which is a Consumer Off the Shelf (COTS) workflow system designed to automate the correspondence tracking and management process within FNS. It will be used by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Nutrition Program (CNP), the Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Program (SNAS), and Regional Operations and Compliance (ROC).


This notice is effective upon publication, subject to a 30-day notice and comment period in which to comment on the routine uses described below. Comments, if any, must be submitted by Oct. 18, 2023.


You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking portal: provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments.
  • By Mail:
    • SNAP: Laura Griffin, Senior Policy Advisor, SNAP, USDA/Food and Nutrition Service, Braddock Metro Center II, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314.
    • SNAS: Clarissa Brown, SNAS Special Assistant, SNAS, USDA/Food and Nutrition Service, Braddock Metro Center II, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314.
    • CNP: Shawn Martin, CNP Special Assistant—USDA/Child Nutrition, Food and Nutrition Service, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314.
    • ROC: Andrew Furbee, Director, ROC, USDA/Food and Nutrition Service, Braddock Metro Center II, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314.
  • By Email:

Instructions: All comment submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to, including any personal information provided.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received go to


The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) receives hundreds of pieces of correspondence each year from Congress, program partners, and the general public regarding the interpretation of legislation for the delivery of FNS nutrition programs or for general information about access to the nutrition programs. Each piece of correspondence is responded to with information about one or more of the 15 nutrition assistance programs administered by the agency, and each one is tracked to ensure it is answered accurately and timely and that all necessary reviews are complete before it is signed and sent to the correspondent.

Mercury is a customized Salesforce solution to automate the intake, review, response writing, review, and approval of these correspondences for program offices within the FNS. The program offices currently supported are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Child Nutrition Programs (CN); the Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Program (SNAS), and Retailer Operations & Compliance (ROC).

Mercury provides a replacement for a legacy Mercury Correspondence Management application that was built upon SharePoint 2007 and Web Components. The legacy SharePoint platform was decommissioned by FNS shortly after new Mercury went live on April 12, 2021.

Privacy Act

The Privacy Act of 1974 (the Privacy Act), 5 USC 552a, embodies fair information principles in a statutory framework governing the means by which the United States Government collects, maintains, uses, and disseminates personally identifiable information. The Privacy Act applies to information that is maintained in a system of records. A system of records is a group of any records under the control of an agency for which information is retrieved by the name of an individual or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual. In the Privacy Act, an individual is defined to encompass United States citizens and legal permanent residents.

The Privacy Act requires each agency to publish in the Federal Register a description denoting the type and character of each system of records that the agency maintains, the routine uses that are contained in each system in order to make agency record keeping practices transparent, to notify individuals regarding the uses to which personally identifiable information is put, and to assist individuals to more easily find such files within the agency.

In accordance with 5 USC 552a(r), USDA has provided a report of this new system to the Office of Management and Budget and to Congress.

Page updated: November 22, 2023