WASHINGTON, D.C. – Commonsense legislation offered by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-LA) and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) earned passage in the U.S. House of Representatives today.
Graves’s H.R. 1079 – the Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services (CASES) for Constituents Act of 2017 – would make the federal government a little more user-friendly by giving the public the option to use the internet to authorize their congressperson to conduct casework on their behalf.
CASES modernizes an outdated provision of the Privacy Act of 1974, which currently requires Members of Congress or their staff to obtain written authorization from a constituent before taking action to resolve the individual’s case: an archaic and inconvenient process that often creates unnecessary delays in issue resolution.
“Let’s be honest, we’re not splitting atoms or reinventing the wheel here; everybody knows we’re a long way from government being able to keep up with the private sector when it comes to innovation, customer-focus or speed – but this bill helps to solve the problem,” said Graves.
“More than 80 percent of American adults have smartphones and nearly all of them use the internet – there’s just no excuse for the fact that it’s business-as-usual since 1974 for the federal government.”
Currently, constituents in need of assistance to resolve issues with the VA, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or other federal agencies must physically print, sign and fax, mail or hand deliver a “privacy release form” to their congressional office before the office can take action.
CASES integrates modern technology into a necessary process by allowing people to grant congressional offices electronic authorization, while retaining the option of a paper submission. It would direct the Trump Administration to develop a streamlined and consistent process across all agencies while ensuring the necessary privacy protections stay intact.
“After our 2016 flood in South Louisiana, our office was available to field the thousands of calls from flood victims in need of help. How do you tell someone who literally just lost everything – including their printers and internet – that the law requires them to print and fax, scan, or mail in a sheet of paper authorizing us to speak to FEMA or any other agency before we could do anything? It was absurd.”
Graves continued, “This bill is an example of how Congress is supposed to work: we saw firsthand how a streamlined process would improve service for our constituents, and it passed the House with overwhelming support last Congress. That’s why we reintroduced and are pushing CASES again this Congress -- to improve government performance.”
Graves introduced CASES for the first time in 2017, and it passed out of the House in 2018.