Strengthening the Texas Birth Record Information System
At the direction of the 82nd Texas Legislature, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) initiated a study to evaluate the security of the state’s birth records. The State Registrar convened a workgroup comprising representatives from the Governor's office, Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Public Safety, local registrars, the State Auditor's office, the identity management solutions industry, and other government entities. DSHS, in conjunction with the workgroup established as a provision of the General Appropriations Act (Article II, Texas Department of State Health Services, Rider 72, H.B. 1, 82nd Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 2011), developed a set of recommendations that addresses the security and effectiveness of the state’s birth record information system.
The workgroup was charged with the following:
Evaluate the effectiveness and security of the state’s birth record information system;
- Evaluate the feasibility of restructuring and upgrading the birth record information system and documents with advanced technology to prevent fraud and reduce inefficiency;
- Identify the roles and responsibilities of the Texas Department of State Health Services, local governments, and others in a central issuance birth record information system; and
- Identify ways to leverage private sector investment and user fees to restructure and upgrade the birth record information system and documents without the use of general revenue funds.
Schedule Decommissioning of TER and Move to a Single State Electronic Birth and Death Records System – Schedule the decommissioning of TER and Remote Birth Access, and require VSU, in coordination with local registrars, to develop and deploy a new system that can serve as a single state electronic birth and death records system.
Increase Timetable for Public Release of Data – Establish the timetable for publicly releasing vital records information to 125 years after a birth and 50 years after a death.
Consolidate Local Registrar Functions – Reduce the number of local registrars by prioritizing consolidation based on the following criteria: metropolitan health district, county, registration district with a population over 100,000.
Criminal History Background Checks – Require that all individuals who can register a birth record or interact with the birth record information system undergo a criminal history background check.
Enhance Wrongful Possession Provisions – Enhance provisions regarding the possession of birth certificates of others in order to discourage the casual treatment of the birth certificate.
Segregation of Duties – Enhance functionality of the state’s birth record information system by requiring a segregation of duties within the birth registration process.
Vital Statistics Unit – Rider 72 Report, “Strengthening the Texas Birth Record Information System”