----- Original Message -----From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Cummings, PatrickSent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 1:09 PMSubject: Message for Town Clerks from Richard McCoy, Vermont Department of Health
In recent years, there have been considerable changes in federal and states laws and regulations that impact the creation, storage, and release of birth and death certificates. Many of you have been involved with some of those changes (e.g., EDRS) or have heard about some of the challenges (e.g., other states refusing to accept our certified copies). In 2009, the Vital Records' Office began writing a "status" report regarding the current challenges and opportunities with birth and death reporting in Vermont.
The report took longer than expected to complete since we wanted to include comments and feedback from numerous stakeholders. During the writing process, we gathered feedback from 20+ stakeholder groups and attempted to incorporate their concerns into the document. A copy of the report, Access to Birth and Death Certificates: Recommendations for Legislative Changes, is available at:
In addition to providing a summary of the current status of the Vital Records Office, the report provides a review of laws and regulations that affect the operations and efficiency of these activities and potential directions for desired statutory changes. Two main concerns are raised in the report:
Modernization: The Vital Records Office has encountered challenges in the existing statutes related to modernization and the use of technology to meet its growing responsibilities and to provide optimal customer service to Vermonters. There are significant changes required for the processing, storage, and issuance of birth and death certificates in order to comply with the requirements of agencies while continuing to serve the public. In addition, our locally-issued certificates are being refused by some states and federal agencies until Vermont modernizes its systems and business processes.
Security & Privacy: Currently, any party has unlimited access to Vermont birth and death certificates, with no tracking or purpose required. This allows anyone from within or outside of the U.S. to obtain a certified copy of a birth or death certificate, which may then be used to obtain U.S. passports, driverís licenses, federal benefits (e.g., Medicaid), and for a variety of other purposes. This is a significant threat to the security and privacy of Vermonters, and there are reasonable steps that can be taken to limit access to these legal documents.
We plan to work with legislative sponsors to introduce a bill in the upcoming session that will address the recommendations contained in the report. Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any questions or feedback that you might have after reading the report or on any proposed bill in the coming legislative session. Also, I'll be happy to attend any town clerk or municipal officer meetings to answer your questions and hear feedback on issues if a legislative bill is considered.
On a different note, you may not have heard but Linda (Davis) Merchant is retiring at the end of December. Linda has been the Vital Records' Supervisor for many years and probably everyone has worked with her at some point. Linda has done an outstanding job in her many years of service and it is difficult to think of the office without her steady leadership and amazing historical knowledge. We are very disappointed to see her retire, but it is well deserved. We hope to make some decisions about the position and hiring during November, and possibly make an announcement in early December.
Public Health Statistics Chief
Vermont Department of Health
Email: [log in to unmask]