recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that several Federal agencies have yet to meet guidelines issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that outline agencies’ responsibilities for accepting digital access and consent forms.

OMB, as required by the Creating Advanced Streamlined Electronic Services for Constituents Act of 2019, outlined agencies’ responsibilities for “accepting digitally-formatted access and consent forms from individuals who are properly identity proofed and authenticated,” according to the GAO report.

Agencies were supposed to implement the requirements in the OMB guidance by November 2021. Specifically, by November 2021, agencies were to:

  • Accept remote identity proofing and authentication to allow individuals to request access to their records or to provide written consent authorizing disclosure of their records under the Privacy Act;
  • Digitally accept the access and consent forms from any individual that was properly identity-proofed and authenticated; and
  • Post the forms developed using the template provided in OMB’s guidance on its website’s privacy program webpage.

But as of September 2022, GAO found that only one of the 17 selected agencies – the Securities and Exchange Commission – reported that they had fully implemented OMB’s guidance. The remaining 16 agencies reported “encountering technical challenges and competing priorities that have delayed them from fully implementing OMB’s guidance,” the report stated.

“Implementing the CASES Act is essential to protecting records while providing prompt assistance to the public … Until the other agencies implement the requirements or commit to doing so within a reasonable time frame, these agencies cannot ensure that they are using modern processes for individuals to establish their identity and request access to or provide consent for disclosure of their records,” the report stated.

GAO made a total of 12 recommendations – one to OMB to facilitate information sharing among agencies – and one to each of 11 agencies to establish reasonable time frames for fully implementing OMB guidance.

According to GAO, seven agencies concurred with their recommendations, while four agencies and OMB either generally agreed, or did not state whether they agreed or disagreed with the recommendations.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.