WSR 00-05-098

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH


[ Filed February 16, 2000, 9:33 a.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 98-07-079.

Title of Rule: Release of vital record information.

Purpose: The purpose of this rule proposes requirements individuals must meet to receive certified copies of birth certificates. The rule is consistent with long-standing Center for Health Statistics policy. The proposal also places in WAC the centers policies for releasing confidential and nonidentified vital record data files. This proposal is intended to deter fraudulent acquisition of birth certificates by imposters intent on criminal use of personal identification information.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 70.58.104 and 70.58.082.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 70.58.104 and 70.58.082.

Summary: The rule defines terms, outlines procedures for obtaining vital records for research purposes or statistical study and reasons for denial, and outlines procedures for obtaining birth certificates for personal purposes and methods for relief if denied.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: This rule will allow the department to clarify existing policies and involve the public in their creation. This is a first step in a process to reduce identity fraud.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting, Implementation and Enforcement: Teresa Jennings, Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, (360) 236-4307.

Name of Proponent: Washington State Department of Health, governmental.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: The draft rule is intended to (1) clarify procedures for obtaining vital record data for research purposes and (2) deter the fraudulent acquisition of birth certificates by imposters intent on criminal use of personal identifier information.

Current law (chapter 70.58 RCW) requires that all research proposals must be submitted to the department and must be reviewed and approved as to scientific merit and to ensure that confidentiality safeguards are provided in accordance with department policy. Clarifying procedures for researchers assists the public to know more about how vital record data can be obtained for research purposes and what safeguards are in place for its release and the circumstances for which a request could be denied.

It accomplishes the second purpose by requiring the applicant to provide certain information to obtain a birth certificate: (a) Child's full name; (b) child's date of birth; (c) child's place of birth (city or county); (d) father's full name, if it appears on the record and (e) mother's full maiden name. These are the same items that are displayed on the certificate. Therefore, the requester receives no information that they do not already know.

Proposal does not change existing rules. This is a new chapter of administrative code.

A small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW.

Small Business Economic Impact Statement

In 1997, the Washington state legislature passed HB 1930 which required the Department of Health to "adopt rules providing for the release of paper or electronic copies of birth certificate records that include adequate standards for security and confidentiality, assure the proper record is identified, and prevent fraudulent use of records." The purpose of this rule is to adopt in WAC the current requirements of Center for Health Statistics policies stating what is required for an individual to receive a certified copy of a birth certificate. It is intended to deter the fraudulent acquisition of birth certificates by imposters intent on criminal use of personal identification information.

This rule also places in WAC the center's policies for obtaining confidential and nonidentified birth certificate data files. Authorization for this latter portion of the draft rule is in RCW 70.58.104, "the department may authorize by regulation the disclosure of information contained in vital records for research purposes."

This report presents the department's determination that a small business economic impact statement (SBEIS) is not needed for the proposed rule.

Small Business Economic Impact Statement: Is a small business economic impact statement necessary? This rule does not fall into any of the categories explicitly designated as exempt from an SBEIS by the Regulatory Fairness Act. However, the $13 cost of a birth certificate (set by legislation) is below the general "more than minor cost" threshold of $50. On rare occasions, organizations (usually a news related) request multiple birth certificates. Since 1997, the most certified copies of a single birth certificate asked for in a single request has been three. The fee associated with such a request is $39. This amount is less than the $78 more than minor cost threshold for news media (from the "Facilitating Regulatory Fairness" by the Business Assistance Center). Since the cost imposed by this proposed regulation is not "more than minor" a small business economic impact statement (SBEIS) is not necessary.

A copy of the statement may be obtained by writing to Carrie Richardson, Administrative Assistant, Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, P.O. Box 47814, Olympia, WA 98504-7814, phone (360) 236-4307, fax (360) 753-4135.

RCW 34.05.328 applies to this rule adoption. This rule qualifies as a legislatively significant rule under RCW 34.05.328 because an individual may be subject to penalty if he or she uses the information they obtain through a vital statistics request for fraudulent purposes.

Hearing Location: Department of Health, 1st Floor Conference Room, 1102 Quince Street, Olympia, WA, on March 22, 2000, at 10:30 a.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Carrie Richardson, at (360) 236-4308, by March 15, 2000, TDD (800) 833-6388.

Submit Written Comments to: Teresa Jennings, fax (360) 753-4135, by March 22, 2000.

Date of Intended Adoption: March 24, 2000.

February 14, 2000

M. C. Selecky

Secretary

OTS-2561.2


NEW SECTION
WAC 246-490-010
Definitions.

(1) "Department" means the department of health.

(2) "Human research review board" is a standing institutional review board operating under state law, chapter 42.48 RCW.

(3) "Confidential portion of the birth and fetal death certificates" means pertinent information relative to the birth and manner of delivery as specified in WAC 246-491-029.

(4) "Local registrar and their deputies" are those local officials operating under the direction and control of the state registrar. The health officer within each local health jurisdiction is the local registrar in and for the primary registration district under his or her supervision. His or her designees are deputy registrars.

(5) "Personal identifiers" are names, addresses, social security numbers and any other information that reveals or can likely be associated with the identity of the person or persons to whom the record pertains.

(6) "Research" means a planned and systematic sociological, psychological, epidemiological, biomedical, or other scientific investigation with an objective to contribute to scientific knowledge, the solution of social and health problems, or the evaluation of public benefit, health care delivery or medical or social service programs.

(7) "Scientific merit" describes a research project or statistical study that is based on methods of data collection or analysis that are objective, can be replicated, and are designed to yield reliable and valid results.

(8) "State registrar" is the department of health official charged with the execution of the provisions of chapter 70.58 RCW.

(9) "Statistical study" means any project consisting of or based on assembling, classifying, and/or tabulating numerical data to present significant information about a given subject.

(10) "Vital records" means records of birth, death, fetal death, marriage, dissolution, annulment, and legal separation, maintained under the supervision of the state registrar of vital statistics.

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VITAL RECORDS FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES OR STATISTICAL STUDY
NEW SECTION
WAC 246-490-020
Requesting vital records information without personal identifiers.

(1) If you request vital records information without personal identifiers for research purposes or statistical study or if the state registrar determines that your research or statistical study does not require the use of personal identifiers, you will receive the vital records information in a format specified by the department.

(2) You may be required to sign an agreement requiring you to:

(a) Not release the vital records data files or listings to any third party without prior written approval of the state registrar; and

(b) Pay for charges based on actual costs associated with the preparation of the data files or analyses required to fulfill your request.

(3) If you are requesting birth or fetal death certificate confidential information without personal identifiers, you will be required to sign a written agreement, which includes:

(a) Conditions for the use of the birth or fetal death certificate data;

(b) Conditions for safeguarding the confidentiality of the records including limits on reporting results that may reveal personal identities;

(c) Appropriate citations for use in research reports or publications of research findings; and

(d) An estimate of the costs for preparing the analyses or copies of data files maintained by the state registrar.

(4) Your request may be denied if:

(a) The department does not have adequate resources with which to fulfill the request; or

(b) You do not agree to pay for charges associated with the preparation of the data or analyses required to fulfill your request.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 246-490-030
Requesting a listing or file of vital records with personal identifiers.

(1) If you request access to vital records with personal identifiers for research purposes or statistical study, you shall be required to submit a letter of request to the state registrar stating:

(a) The purpose of the research;

(b) Research study design and analysis plan;

(c) The means for ensuring the confidentiality and security of the records;

(d) The time frame and geographic area of interest;

(e) The variable(s) needed; and

(f) The preferred time frame for receiving the information.

(2) You may be required to sign an agreement requiring you to:

(a) Not release the vital records data files or listings to any third party without prior written approval of the state registrar; and

(b) Pay for charges based on actual costs associated with the preparation of the data files or analyses required to fulfill your request.

(3) If you are requesting birth or fetal death certificate confidential information with personal identifiers for research purposes, you must obtain approval from the standing human research review board as specified in chapter 42.48 RCW. Application information is available through the department.

(4) Your request may be denied if:

(a) The information requested will be used for a commercial purpose;

(b) Your research proposal or statistical study is without scientific merit;

(c) The department does not have adequate resources with which to fulfill the request; or

(d) You do not agree to pay for charges associated with the preparation of the data or analyses required to fulfill your request.

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INDIVIDUAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES FOR PERSONAL PURPOSES
NEW SECTION
WAC 246-490-055
Obtaining a birth certificate.

(1) Certified copies of birth certificates are available through the state registrar or local deputy registrar. You must pay the fee required under RCW 70.58.107 and provide the following information to obtain the birth certificate:

(a) Child's full name;

(b) Child's date of birth;

(c) Child's place of birth (city or county);

(d) Father's full name, if it appears on the record; and

(e) Mother's full maiden name.

(2) If there is not sufficient information to find the record, the department will send you a written request for additional information and the entire fee will be returned to you.

(3) If you cannot provide sufficient information due to special circumstances, you will be given an opportunity to explain the circumstances to the state or local deputy registrar. If in their judgment, these circumstances would have prevented you from knowing one or more of the required items, your request will be honored.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 246-490-065
Notification when the record is not found.

(1) If the state registrar cannot find the record, you will receive written notice from the state registrar's office including the following information:

A partial refund if you request it in writing within thirteen months of the original request date. In addition:

(a) You may request another search providing different information; or

(b) You may file a delayed birth certificate per RCW 70.58.110 and 70.58.120.

(2) If you request another search using different information, you must pay the full statutory required fee.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 246-490-070
Fraudulently registered or changed birth certificates.

(1) If the state registrar receives information that a birth certificate may have been registered or amended through fraud or misrepresentation, neither the state registrar nor local deputy registrars will release copies of that certificate until an informal administrative hearing is held.

(2) The department will notify the registrant or authorized representative, and he or she will have the opportunity to be heard at the hearing.

(a) If the state registrar finds that there was no fraud or misrepresentation, the record will be made available for inspection and copying.

(b) If the state registrar finds that the record was used fraudulently or was misrepresented, the registrar will tag the fraudulent birth certificate in the data base. The record and evidence will be retained, but will not be released or subject to inspection unless:

(i) A court of competent jurisdiction orders the release or inspection of the record; or

(ii) The state registrar utilizes the record for purposes of administering the vital statistics program.

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Washington State Code Reviser's Office