The leaders of the House government operations subcommittee have joined in a rare bipartisan venture to press agencies on cooperating with inquiries from members of Congress on behalf of their constituents.
Reps. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., and Jody Hice, D-Ga., sent similar letters to the SSA, the IRS, the VA and the USCIS reminding them that a 2019 law known as the CASES Act (for creating advanced streamlined electronic services for constituents) ended a prior requirement that individuals provide a hard copy document authorizing a congressional office to work with an agency on their behalf. That requirement had put “undue burden on constituents and caseworkers alike,” they wrote.
The CASES Act “requires agencies to accept digital signatures for privacy authorization forms that enable members of Congress to work with federal agencies on behalf of their constituents. In short, Congress intended for the CASES Act to make it easier for members to help constituents engage with the federal government,” they wrote.
OMB issued guidance in late 2020 to that effect, they noted, adding that “if done right, a streamlined implementation of the CASES Act will reduce burden on agencies, caseworkers, and the public” and would align with the Biden administration’s executive order on improving customer service by federal agencies.
They asked each agency to report on their progress toward implementation, what steps they are taking to simplify the process for the most common types of information requests, and how they plan to “reduce administrative burden, address inequities, and streamline existing casework processes,” among other requests.