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Graves, Kennedy Legislation Improves Constituent Access to Government Services

October 27, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressmen Garret Graves and Joe Kennedy released the following statements after the U.S. House of Representatives announced that it has launched a long-awaited digital consent form to modernize the citizen experience with federal government agencies. Graves and Kennedy’s bipartisan legislation, the Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituents Act of 2019, allows constituents to give their permission for a member of Congress to work with a federal agency on their behalf online. Prior to the enactment of this legislation, congressional offices were required to go through a cumbersome paperwork process that required constituents to physically sign permission forms before a federal agency could even be contacted. 

“Improving the way a citizen engages with the government is a step in the right direction, and this bill accomplishes this. Whether helping a veteran with a Veterans Affairs issue or folks with the IRS and their taxes, Social Security problems, or even help with an Army Corps of Engineers permit, increasing the access is pivotal to making the government more effective and less in the way. It shouldn’t take seven steps before our team can make a call to a federal agency on behalf of someone in need,” Graves said. “If we can order groceries, pay bills, deposit checks, talk with doctors, and buy sporting event tickets online, then we should be able to help constituents navigate federal processes digitally too. We have an obligation to help folks at home and I’m looking forward to seeing Capitol Hill and district offices nationwide move toward the next era of constituent services so we can help folks get the assistance they need.”

“Modernizing constituent casework will allow Congress to provide urgent relief and faster support to our neighbors when they turn to us for help,” said Kennedy. “When we passed the bipartisan CASES Act, it was a long overdue effort to bring Congress into the 21st Century. With this new electronic privacy release form, we will begin to streamline a process that can too often be upended by unnecessary bureaucratic delays.”

Graves asked President Donald Trump on April 15, 2020 to finalize pending guidance related to a new law enacted in 2019 that would allow constituents to electronically sign congressional casework consent forms. The new law requires the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidance to federal agencies before electronic consent can be accepted as written permission. 

CASES modernized an outdated provision of the Privacy Act of 1974 that required Members of Congress or their staff to obtain written authorization from a constituent before taking action to resolve the individual’s case.

Read Graves’ letter to President Trump here.

Click here to read more about the CASES Act passed on February 11, 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives, and later signed by Trump into law on August 22, 2019.