The Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituents Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was signed into law Aug. 23.
The new law will update and streamline the casework privacy release form process used by congressional offices to assist constituents in contacting federal agencies. The new law will also give constituents the option to electronically authorize congressional offices to engage with federal agencies on their behalf by modernizing an outdated provision of the Privacy Act of 1974. Under current law, members of Congress are required to obtain written authorization from a constituent before taking action to resolve the individual’s case. The new law will help to modernize an outdated and often inconvenient process that often creates unnecessary delays in issue resolution.
The CASES Act passed the Senate unanimously earlier in August. The companion bill in the House of Representatives, introduced by Reps. Joe Kennedy III, D-Massachusetts, and Garret Graves, R-Louisiana, passed the House by a margin of 379-0.
“Today, I’m proud that this bipartisan bill to help ensure elected officials like myself can be even more effective advocates for our constituents, has been signed into law,” said Carper. “When the American taxpayers we represent need assistance with Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Affairs or any other federal agency, they should be able to get the help and information they need quickly and in a straightforward manner. This common sense new law will modernize the constituent services process so that those who we represent can navigate the federal government more easily and in a timely way. I want to thank my colleague Sen. Portman for his leadership on this issue and my House colleagues Reps. Kennedy and Graves for helping to get this bill across the finish line.”
The CASES Act will streamline the process to allow people to grant congressional offices electronic authorization, while retaining the option of a paper submission. It will also direct the Trump Administration to develop a streamlined process across all federal agencies while ensuring the necessary privacy protections stay intact.
Specifically, the new law will:
— Require the Office of Management and Budget to direct federal agencies to establish a system for electronic submission of a privacy release form;
— Require OMB to establish a uniform release form to be used across the agencies; and
— Require OMB to consider and develop authentication procedures to ensure accuracy and privacy protections remain in place through the process.