NASA is preparing to implement a contact tracing program for its employees to follow exposure to the COVID-19 virus as they return to the worksite, according to an August 11 notice in the Federal Register.

NASA personnel will volunteer to be contacted by the designated NASA Contact Tracer – who has yet to be identified – to track interactions across the agency and identify possible points of exposure. The NASA Contact Tracer will read out the employee’s privacy rights and ask the individual if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. The information will be inputted into NASA’s Salesforce enterprise solution along with the names, phone numbers, and emails of individuals the person has been in contact with.

“While participation is voluntary, it is strongly encouraged as failure to provide the requested information may result in potential increased exposure of personnel to the virus,” NASA wrote in the notice.

The information collected through NASA’s contact tracing program may also be shared with private or government healthcare providers and other entities with access to all NASA systems of records. By keeping the contact tracing records in a digital format, NASA wrote that it hopes to “ensure higher rate of inclusion and assist in the efficiency of the stages of report processing by human subject matter analysts.”

NASA is estimating that the contact tracing program will cost about $1.9 million per year. The agency is accepting comments on its contact tracing program – such as ways to enhance the quality of its data and ways to minimize the burden of information collection on personnel – through October 4.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.