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March 2021 Monthly Newsletter

Message from Executive Director - Shawna Webster


It’s officially spring here in Washington, and that means Hill Days! NAPHSIS and its Data: Elemental to Health Campaign partners CSTE, APHL, ASTHO & HIMSS are working with CDC partners to ensure that Data Modernization Initiatives (DMI) are prioritized by the new Administration. The American Rescue Plan includes $500 Million for DMI and infectious disease epidemic forecasting and analytics but ensuring that the money will support all five of the Campaign’s “pillars” – including Vital Records – is an ongoing struggle with so many competing priorities.

The DMI is a commitment to building the world-class data workforce and data systems that are ready for the next public health emergency. To date, Congress has provided nearly $1 billion to date for CDC’s DMI through annual and supplemental appropriations. Now, we are focused on the need for a robust, sustained, annual funding commitment to complete the foundational investment of $1 billion and to ensure we are investing in public health systems and infrastructure that will keep pace with evolving technology.

With this funding, the DMI will create a standards-based interoperable public health infrastructure, ensuring that all systems can communicate and share data seamlessly with one another; advancing standards so that information can be stored and shared across systems; and facilitating complete and timely — reporting so that our public health system has essential data on race, ethnicity, pregnancy status, treatments, co-morbidities, and vaccination status that are critical for achieving equity in public health response.

NAPHSIS met recently with almost a dozen members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to advocate for another $250 Million for DMI in FY2022. The STEVE system was showcased as a “success story” for interjurisdictional exchange and its ability to move data quickly and securely to our Federal partners. Greater use of STEVE’s current functionality and planned enhancements will play a huge role in advancing interoperability and national standards for data sharing.


As announced earlier in the year, Congress expanded Section 205r of the Social Security Administration Act to authorize SSA to share the death data it receives from each jurisdiction with any government agency. Per your individual contract with SSA, this will necessitate a re-negotiation. SSA has been given a three year time frame to prepare for and comply with this new “scope of work,” and SSA has reached out last week to begin that process. NAPHSIS will also be working with the National Academy of Public Administration regarding their independent study of sources of death data called for in the new legislation. This work has not yet begun, but we are working with partners to ensure that it includes a thorough review of how this legislation will affect our vital records jurisdictions, both financially and otherwise.


FEMA has recruited NAPHSIS, NFDA, IACME, NAME and NFDMA to assist and advise in the rollout of the new Funeral Assistance program. Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to individuals who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020. FEMA anticipates launching this program in early April 2021, so things are moving fast! For more information about this program, visit COVID-19 Funeral Assistance |

Message from the President - Molly Crawford

Most aspects of vital records operations are ripe for streamlining work and reducing waste. If your office has a backlog of requests awaiting review and processing or your call center has long hold times or customers make the same mistake on your application form, you might want to think about continuous improvement—a practice of constantly re-examining and improving processes. You may be familiar with popular terms such as Six Sigma, Lean, agile, Kaizen, and others. Some of you may even be certified “green belts”. Continuous improvement is sometimes called quality improvement or process improvement. Really, it is a disciplined approach to doing work better. It is about improving quality or a process through actions that are intentional, measured, and data driven. It means being ok when asking why and pushing beyond a “that’s how we’ve always done it” answer. It requires a desire to dig deep to find the root cause and having a willingness to try something, assess, make small changes and test again over being paralyzed while in search of perfection. It’s a continuous cycle of plan, do, study, act.

Applying continuous improvement to vital records activities can help eliminate unnecessary work and rework while increasing customer satisfaction. It can help in your efforts to become accredited, and it can help reduce costs and increase employee morale. It’s a win-win.

And soon, NAPHSIS will make it easier for you to develop knowledge and expertise in continuous quality improvement. NAPHSIS has contracted with Continual Impact and in the next few months training will be available. I can attest that the Continuous Improvement staff know our work and have helped jurisdictions such as North Carolina and Minnesota deliver death data faster. They get us. They can help map the as-is, see the possible, and hold our hands to get there! Watch for NAPHSIS HQ emails and register early.


News Spotlight


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spotlighted our work in a new Twitter thread on how USALEEP life expectancy data can be leveraged to build health equity where we live. Please help us share on social!


Exciting Training Going Virtual: NAPHSIS Training on Managing Virtual Work

We know how challenging this last year has been for our membership. Many of you have had to “go virtual” at a moment’s notice, or are managing both virtual and in-office employees. Whether you’ve stayed in the office full time or are struggling with how to plan for a post-pandemic workforce, NAPHSIS is here to help!

Michael Barata is a Master Trainer for CultureRx responsible for facilitating migrations into a Results-Only Work Environment™ (ROWE™). At his core, he is a social change enthusiast. He has established himself as a respected college psychology professor, dynamic public speaker, and inspiring writer. Michael’s writings have been featured in such magazines as Origin Magazine, Mantra Health + Yoga Magazine as well as the bestselling book, Simple Reminders, Inspiration For Living Your Best Life.

In his session with NAPHSIS members (April 28th, 2:30-4:00 pm ET), participants will engage with the idea that the precursor to organizational change is a process of unlearning. The world of work has been through a lot this past year, but make no mistake, a silver lining does exist for how we choose to move forward, if we can find the courage to do so. This session will explore work related beliefs and their influence on organizational culture, as well as unpack what it means to shift the focus from subjective to objective measures.

You may register HERE.


Call for PHAB Vital Records/ Health Statistics Site Visitors

PHAB accreditation utilizes a peer-review process, and site visitors play a central and substantive role in that process.

Volunteers who have served as site visitors have told PHAB that the experience is rewarding and provides tangible benefits such as networking with other leaders in public health; gaining in-depth information about the accreditation process; participating in a meaningful peer review process; enhancing verbal, written, and technical communication and interviewing skills; learning about new, innovative, and promising practices; engaging in professional development; and contributing to the overall improvement of the field of public health. PHAB covers all of your travel expenses for training and for the site visits. Currently, training and site visits are conducted virtually due to COVID-19.

The PHAB VRHS site visit team is composed of two individuals, one with vital record/health statistics expertise and one with PHAB health department accreditation experience. Applicants must have:

  • At least five years of professional public health experience in a state health department or in state health department vital records and/or health statistics services (preferred),

  • Leadership or management experience as demonstrated by supervisory responsibility for one or more programs or units, and,

  • A baccalaureate or higher degree.

To apply to be a VRHS site visitor go to:

For more information, or if you are a current PHAB site visitor interested in conducting VRHS reviews, please contact Brittan Williams at or 703-778-4549, x115.


Job Opportunities

There are a few jurisdictions that are now hiring! Please visit our website to view these opportunities.

Opportunities include:

• Texas Department of State Health: Vital Records Branch Manager

• New York City Bureau of Vital Statistics: Vital Event Registration Scientist

• California Department of Public Health: Deputy Director


NAPHSIS Upcoming Trainings/ Webinars

NAPHSIS has scheduled numerous trainings and webinars to take place during 2021. Click HERE for a sneak peek of upcoming events.


APHL LabMatters

Check out the latest issue of our sister organization, APHL's quarterly magazine, LabMatters. The feature article discusses public health data in the age of COVID-19 response, focusing on security and privacy while improving public health outcomes.


Member Spotlight

Congratulations to Lynette Childs, the new State Registrar for Wisconsin! Lynette is the Vital Records Section Manager and State Registrar position in Wisconsin. She replaced Charles Warzecha, who was acting as interim State Registrar during the vacancy following Lisa Walker’s retirement. Lynette has been acting in this role since January, and is now officially in the position as of mid-March.


Upcoming Webinars and Events

Thursday, April 15 @ 3pm ET

Making the Case for VRHS Accreditation

Click here to register.


Monday, April 19 @ 12:00pm ET

Regional Meeting West/Midwest

Click here to register.


Thursday, April 22 @ 12:00pm ET

Regional Meeting Northeast/Southern

Click here to register.


Tuesday, April 27 @ 3pm ET

Field Services Special Interest Group

Email us to join.


Thursday, April 28 @ 2:30pm ET

Managing Virtual Work

Click here to register.


Thursday, April 29 @ 3pm ET

Systems Special Interest Group

Email us to join.


and Events

For any questions about NAPHSIS Events, please email

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