The largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history was enacted on March 27. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security Act (CARES Act) provides economic relief for individuals, businesses, and industries affected by the pandemic. The $2 trillion package contains some key provisions for public data and evidence-building activities.
In addition to its other core funding, the CDC will receive $500 million for public health surveillance and analytics infrastructure, providing more timely and accurate health data. In its open letter to Congress, the Data Coalition highlighted ways that the system for compiling national COVID-19 test data and relevant health data could be improved. Using existing data infrastructure, an improved reporting system with basic data standards could be implemented to ensure timely reporting of test results and relevant vital records.
In addition to health surveillance, the National Center for Health Statistics, housed within the CDC, can improve capabilities in the Electronic Death Reporting System and work with states to improve their reporting capacity.
The bill includes multiple bodies to provide oversight on the large sums of money spent in the bill. These oversight bodies will provide accountability and will help connect federal spending to outcomes.
The CARES Act also provides $340 billion in emergency funding, the bulk of which will go directly to state and local governments. There are additional research funds for the National Institutes of Health ($945.5 million), the National Science Foundation ($76 million), Department of Energy ($99.5 million) and the Environmental Protection Agency ($7.2 million). The Data Coalition continues to push for funding to be used to implement key provisions of the Evidence Act. Statistical activities, data governance, and program evaluation are vital functions that must be successful across the government to understand the impacts of the policy decisions being made today.
Our country will continue to need valid and reliable data not only about the challenges facing our workers, economy, and health but the effectiveness and efficiencies of our policy interventions. These oversight provisions and appropriations will help ensure that we have the best evidence possible for our policy decisions.
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