Social safety net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Medicaid are powerful tools that provide children, older adults, and families access to food, medicine, and other vital resources. These programs have been critical to stabilizing individuals and families during the COVID-19 pandemic and remain crucial in the face of global inflation and economic instability.
Despite this, many programs are chronically under-enrolled, leaving millions of eligible people without assistance that can improve their quality of life – in fact, more than $80 billion in benefits goes untapped nationally. Data sharing across benefit programs can help close this gap and provide critical assistance to people in need. Benefits Data Trust (BDT) is thrilled to announce the release of “Data Sharing to Build Effective and Efficient Benefits Systems: A Playbook for State and Local Agencies.” This resource is designed to support administering government agencies and other sectors like health care, higher education, and research entities scope and implement successful data sharing projects, with legal considerations in mind.
Created with support from the Walmart Foundation, the Playbook serves as a step-by-step guide to conducting impactful work through data sharing, informed by BDT’s nearly 20 years of experience, as well as interviews with 35 city, state, federal officials and other experts in the benefits access and data sharing spaces. It prepares readers for the issues they need to consider and discuss with agency lawyers, administrators, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that data sharing is permissible and secure, and includes examples and templates to guide and inspire efforts at your institution.
When conducted with appropriate and responsible safeguards, data sharing is a powerful tool that government agencies and other key sectors can deploy to ensure that eligible people receive assistance efficiently and equitably. This kind of data sharing exists all over the country — innovative pilots and long-sustained efforts are occurring in agencies and institutions in states nationwide. This Playbook is designed to help additional agencies and sectors use data sharing to illuminate who is not accessing benefits, better connect under-enrolled populations to vital assistance, and make the system more efficient for administering agencies and participants alike.
At BDT, we are proud to continue our work to make the benefits system more accessible and equitable through new resources like this one. By using data, we all have the opportunity and ability to break through programmatic silos and administrative barriers — including lack of awareness, cumbersome and separate benefit applications, and more — that lead eligible families to miss out on critical assistance.
We hope this Playbook benefits your teams, as well as the residents and communities you serve.
Included in the Playbook are resources to help you understand the common components of a data sharing agreement. You can download fillable word document versions of this resource here, along with the Playbook's executive summary:
For questions and assistance, we encourage government agencies, healthcare and higher education institutions and others interested in data sharing for analysis and outreach to contact us at email@example.com.