The Office of Management and Budget Memo M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies [PDF - 103KB] allows Federal agencies to use session and persistent cookies.
When you visit any website, its server may generate a piece of text known as a "cookie" to place on your computer. The cookie allows the server to "remember" specific information about your visit while you are connected. The cookie makes it easier for you to use the dynamic features of Web pages.
Cookies from IHS web pages only collect information about your browser’s visit to the site; they do not collect personal information about you. Personal information will never be collected from you without your discretion and will be clearly identified on IHS.gov websites where that information is necessary.There are two types of cookies, single session (temporary) and multi-session (persistent). Session cookies last only as long as your web browser is open. Once you close your browser, the cookie disappears. Persistent cookies are stored on your computer for longer periods.
Session Cookies: We use session cookies for technical purposes such as to enable better navigation through our site. These cookies let our server know that you are continuing a visit to our site. The OMB Memo 10-22 Guidance defines our use of session cookies as "Usage Tier 1—Single Session." The policy says, "This tier encompasses any use of single session web measurement and customization technologies."
Persistent Cookies: We use persistent cookies to enable web metric tools (Webtrends and Google Analytics) to differentiate between new and returning IHS.gov visitors. This information helps us determine which websites are receiving the most traffic and in turn helps us better serve you. This data is shared amongst website managers and contractors involved with IHS.gov. Persistent cookies remain on your computer between visits to IHS.gov until they expire. The OMB Memo 10-22 Guidance defines our use of persistent cookies as "Usage Tier 2—Multi-session without Personally Identifiable Information (PII)." The policy says, "This tier encompasses any use of multi-session Web measurement and customization technologies when no PII is collected."
Data collected through persistent cookies will be retained for the life of the website it pertains to.
How to Opt Out or Disable Cookies
Both session and persistent cookies are enabled by default because of their integration with our websites. If you do not wish to have session or persistent cookies placed on your computer, you can disable them using your Web browser. If you opt out of cookies, you will still have access to all information and resources at IHS.gov. Instructions for disabling or opting out of cookies in the most popular browsers are located at http://www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml.
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