Washington, DC – Today, Committee on Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Member Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) and Human Resources Subcommittee Ranking Member Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), along with Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Members of the Human Resources Subcommittee introduced H.R. 948, the Standard Data and Technology Advancement Act, or the “Standard DATA Act.” This legislation establishes consistent requirements for the electronic content and format of data used in the administration of all of the key human services programs under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, child care, child support enforcement, foster care and adoption, Supplemental Security Income, and unemployment insurance.
“This bill improves our federal human services programs by increasing efficiency and transparency, a positive move for both the program recipient and taxpayer,” said Congressman Reed. “Increased communication using consistent data standards means those eligible for benefit programs are able to access them in a more timely manner while increased efficiency means taxpayer dollars are used in the most cost effective way.”
Human Resources Ranking Member Doggett stated, “This bill is a good step toward ensuring government programs are able to communicate effectively and efficiently with each other—a step that will ultimately address fraud and abuse, while at the same time helping eligible Americans receive the assistance that they need.”
H.R. 948 requires the relevant agency secretary or program administrator to establish consistent requirements for the electronic content and format of data used in the administration of certain human service programs. The use of consistent data and electronic formatting methods will allow for timelier flow of data that could then be easily searched, accessed, utilized, and analyzed. The provision also requires these standards to be coordinated through an interagency workgroup so that programs and agencies do not continue to operate in their independent silos. It also requires that, to the extent practical, these standards be non-proprietary and interoperable to maximize flexibility.
This bill continues the efforts begun in the bipartisan Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-34), which was the first law requiring a human services program to implement standard data elements and reporting. That was followed by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96), which applied similar provisions to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and unemployment insurance programs.
A GAO report recently released at the request of Chairman Reichert and Congressman Reed confirmed that data exchange can be increased while also protecting the privacy of beneficiaries. The report also revealed that perceived barriers to data sharing stemming from privacy protections were not statutory in nature. Instead, GAO found “confusion and misconceptions around what data agencies are allowed to share, as well as a tendency to be risk averse and overly cautious in the interpretation of federal privacy requirements.” These findings clear the way for increasing the exchange of data to better serve caseworkers and program participants, as H.R. 948 would provide.
The additional Members of the Human Resources Subcommittee cosponsoring H.R. 948 are Representatives John Lewis (D-GA), Charles Boustany (R-LA), Todd Young (R-IN), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Danny Davis (D-IL), as well as Chairman of the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and former Acting Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Erik Paulsen (R-MN).