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Congressman Garret Graves

Representing the 6th District of Louisiana

Graves/Kennedy Bill to Modernize Constituent Services Passes in U.S. House

July 16, 2018
Press Release
Legislation to make the federal government a little more user-friendly passed today in the US House of Representatives

Washington DC – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) and Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) to make the federal government a little more user-friendly passed today in the US House of Representatives.

H.R. 3076 – the Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services (CASES) for Constituents Act of 2017 – gives members of the public 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to electronically authorize congressional offices to engage with federal agencies on their behalf by modernizing an outdated provision of the Privacy Act of 1974.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 or their staff are required to obtain written authorization from a constituent before taking action to resolve the individual’s case: an outdated and inconvenient process that often creates unnecessary delays in issue resolution.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% 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.”

“Although it doesn’t receive headlines or airtime, one of our greatest responsibilities is helping constituents in need,” said Congressman Kennedy. “Through the CASES Act, we can not only modernize our constituent services, but become more efficient as we seek to lift a burden off our neighbors’ shoulders. I thank Congressman Graves for his leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing this legislation pass the Senate.”  

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.

“Could you imagine if Amazon told you to print, sign and mail in your order before they could deliver it, or if the tables at Apple stores were lined with fax machines where employees stood waiting for service requests? Come on.” said Graves. “People always talk about running government like a business – no one finds success in business in 2018 using 1974 technology.”

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, so we introduced CASES to improve government performance.”

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT CASES:

CASES will “help citizens engage their elected officials from the convenience of their smartphone or tablet.” – Nextgov.com

“Agencies [will] go deep into the practice of customer experience as a management discipline” - Customer Experience, Leadership, Strategic Planning

WATCH REP. GRAVES EXPLAIN CASES ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:

Rep. Graves is a leading voice in the effort to modernize the federal government, and a number of his technology solutions have passed in the House, including his FEMA Modernization, Accountability and Transparency Actthe Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act and a provision in the FAST Act encouraging better application of technologies to improve traffic systems (signed into law). He participated in the president’s American Technology Council, accompanying CEOs from Amazon, Microsoft and other companies at the forefront of tech-innovation. Graves is also a member of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s innovation working group, which exists to identify legislative opportunities to innovate how the government operates to improve its performance.

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