Article by Chris Sadler and Claire Park: “Robust federal assistance programs and social services are essential to a thriving society. This is especially the case as people continue to contend with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which jeopardized livelihoods and put millions out of employment. Government benefits at the federal, state, and local level help people across the country pay for food, housing, health care, and other basic living expenses. But more work is required at the federal level to ensure that these benefits reach everyone in need. For instance, the historic $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last year included a $14.2 billion program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to help qualifying low-income households pay for internet service. While the program is off to a strong start, improved data sharing between federal agencies, state and local governments, and institutions can leverage existing data from other benefits programs to streamline eligibility processes and ensure those who qualify receive the benefit. Expanding data sharing for benefits eligibility also aligns with one of the goals in the recent executive order to advance racial equity.
We discuss how data sharing could be improved, as well as other steps that the federal government can take to maximize the impact of this benefit on the digital divide. The solutions outlined here can be applied to both current and future programs that help people find housing, prepare children for school, and ensure everyone has enough to eat…(More)”.