Modernized Rulemaking for Benefits Delivery
A rules as code approach to benefits eligibility rules and regulations could help close the gap between policy and service delivery for governments, delivery organizations, and, most importantly, people seeking benefits.
Translating policy into standard and transparent computer code.
Every day, millions of people across the United States use digital systems to find out if they are eligible for health and human services, and then apply for, enroll in, and maintain their benefits. In order to implement these digital systems, program and policy teams work with software developers to translate laws, regulations, and policy documents into computer code.
This is not a straightforward process. Implementation requires collecting and interpreting a jumble of potentially conflicting sources across programs and states. Because a certain amount of ambiguity is unavoidable in policymaking, implementers must make subjective decisions about the intended meaning of policy elements. Compounding the potential for errors and inconsistencies, this process is repeated every time there are changes or updates to rules, and duplicated across every entity that uses a digital system for benefits access.
There is a fix for this, though: digitizing benefits eligibility rules at their source and approving them as an official version of the policy. Digitization of benefits policy promises to dramatically reduce implementation burdens, improve transparency and integration of benefits programs, and facilitate real-time modeling of proposed program updates and amendments. This is the place to learn more.
Applying Rules as Code to the Social Safety Net
This short report outlines the promise and potential of digitizing benefits eligibility policy.
Envisioning a Federal Rules as Code Approach to Public Benefits Eligibility
Digitizing public benefits policy will make the biggest impact for administrators and Americans, but only if it happens at the highest level of government.
Rules as Code Demo Day
The Digital Benefits Network recently convened pioneering technology and policy experts from the United States and abroad to share their vision for digitizing benefits eligibility policy and provide a peek under the hood of their products and services. View the demonstrations here.
Rules as Code Demo Day | Demo 1: 18F Eligibility APIs Initiative | Alex Soble and Mike Gintz
We kicked off Rules as Code Demo Day with Alex Soble of 18F and Mike Gintz of 10x presenting their Eligibility APIs Initiative that explores whether APIs and rules as code might improve the efficiency and effectiveness with which federal public benefits programs communicate their policy to states. They demonstrated their original prototype, and how the open source code has now been extended into several initiatives.
Potential and Progress for Benefits Eligibility: A Recap of Rules as Code Demo Day
Building on our February 2022 report Benefit Eligibility Rules as Code: Reducing the Gap Between Policy and Service Delivery for the Safety Net, the Beeck Center’s Digital Benefits Network (DBN) recently held a convening to share progress and potential in digitizing benefits eligibility and to begin addressing how a national approach could be started. At Rules as Code Demo Day, on June 28th, 2022, there were eight demonstrations of projects and code followed by a collaborative problem-solving session on how to continue advancing rules as code for the U.S. social safety net.
Rules as Code Demo Day Highlights
Building on our February 2022 report Benefit Eligibility Rules as Code: Reducing the Gap Between Policy and Service Delivery for the Safety Net, the Beeck Center’s Digital Benefits Network (DBN) hosted Rules as Code Demo Day on June 28, 2022 where there were eight demonstrations of projects and code followed by a collaborative problem solving session on how to continue advancing rules as code for the U.S. social safety net.
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18F's Eligibility APIs Initiative
18F is an internal technology and design consultancy as part of the Technology Transformation Service (TTS) in the General Services Administration (GSA) in the U.S. Federal Government. Their teams work with federal agencies to build and buy technology, and can also work with states and local agencies on initiatives receiving federal funding. They seek to build digital services that are trustworthy, designed with the people who use them, deliver good value, and are shipped efficiently and when possible, in the open.
PolicyEngine is a non-profit that seeks to compute the impact of public policy for the world. Through their free, open-source application, they want to make policy information accessible, and help users understand policy effects at the individual and population level. By giving policymakers and residents greater access to policy rules and their effects, PolicyEngine hopes to promote more democratic policymaking processes.
mRelief is a nonprofit software product company which helps people in all 53 states and territories participating in SNAP find out if they are eligible and apply for SNAP. Their mission is to “transform social services for the inherent dignity of all people.” They have helped over 2.7 million individuals, and have unlocked over $1 billion in SNAP benefits.