Bipartisan Carper-Portman Bill to Modernize Constituent Services Signed into Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituents (CASES) Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Rob Portman (R-OH), was signed into law. 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to electronically authorize congressional offices to engage with federal agencies on their behalf by modernizing an outdated provision of the Privacy Act of 1974.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. This new law will help to modernize an outdated and often inconvenient process that often creates unnecessary delays in issue resolution.

Earlier this month, the CASES Act passed the Senate unanimously. The companion bill in the House of Representatives, introduced by Representatives Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass) and Garret Graves (R-LA), 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 Senator 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 Senator Portman for his leadership on this issue and my House colleagues Representatives Kennedy and Graves for helping to get this bill across the finish line.”

“Each year, thousands of Ohioans contact my office for help resolving issues with federal agencies,” said Senator Portman. “I applaud the president for signing into law the bipartisan CASES Act which will make it easier for Ohioans and all Americans to interact with their government when they need help, while also helping members of Congress better serve their constituents.”

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 (OMB) 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.