How Data Authority Improves Public Health

The Nation Benefits When Public Health Connects

More consistent and detailed data will help our nation rapidly find and face emerging public health issues.

CDC needs to have access to the “minimal necessary data elements” to paint a clearer picture of the nation’s health and address public health threats of concern.


  • Electronic case reporting
  • Electronic laboratory reporting
  • Vital statistics data
  • Emergency department visits (syndromic surveillance) on key conditions/syndromes
  • Hospital/healthcare capacity indicators (e.g., staffed bed capacity)
  • Wastewater and non-patient testing approaches
  • Immunization data

DATA MODERNIZATION AND DATA AUTHORITY efforts will work hand in hand.
CDC is leading efforts to modernize core data and surveillance infrastructure across the federal, state, tribal, and territorial public health landscape. To make the most of these investments, we must also modernize the authority that governs how, what, and when public health data are collected and shared. A modern, technology- and data-driven society must have a coordinated and connected public health data system that meets the nation’s day-to-day needs and expectations, particularly during an emergency.

DATA AUTHORITY CAN HELP FILL GAPS in our existing data systems.
Currently, CDC receives data from a wide variety of public health and healthcare sources, often in inconsistent ways, creating major gaps and blind spots in our public health surveillance systems. Data authority would modernize CDC’s legal ability to access secure public health data in a timely and coordinated way. Data authority will enable information to travel more seamlessly to everyone who needs it, eliminating duplication and making data sharing less complex.

Whenever possible, data should be shared simultaneously across all levels of public health. CDC external subject matter experts will advise on how data authority can help fill the gaps between what we have now and what our nation might need for the future.

CDC has decades of experience collecting and protecting public health data. Any new data authority will not change CDC’s legal responsibility to strictly adhere to existing privacy standards and laws, including the Privacy Act.

NATIONALLY COORDINATED DATA will benefit states and healthcare providers

Benefits for States
  • Reduces the confusion and burden of navigating many data use agreements
  • Streamlines reporting processes
  • Improves the ability of states to access public health data from other states and regions
Benefits for Providers
  • Reduces burden and duplication of effort
  • Create standards to promote interoperability between healthcare and public health systems
  • Enables providers to get better information from CDC
  • Provides more real-time data to support public health and clinical needs

WE NEED A CLEAR, NATIONAL PICTURE that transcends state borders. This will guide local, state, tribal, territorial, and federal decision-making and improve our country’s ability to:

clear national data picture: prevent and stop spread; link data; provide timely recommendations and more county-level data; identify and monitor outbreaks; forecast how diseases will progress

PREVENT AND STOP THE SPREAD of outbreaks by improving situational awareness of conditions of public health concern.

LINK DATA ACROSS TIME AND SPACE in ways that promote better insights and empower local jurisdictions to identify outbreaks more efficiently.

PROVIDE TIMELY RECOMMENDATIONS and data that guide individual, clinical, and community health actions.

PROVIDE MORE COUNTY-LEVEL DATA TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, including timely dashboards and data on case counts, lab testing volumes and trends, emergency visits, deaths, and demographic information on disease trends.

IDENTIFY AND MONITOR OUTBREAKS and investigations that stretch across different jurisdictions.

FORECAST HOW DISEASE OUTBREAKS AND PUBLIC HEALTH CONDITIONS WILL PROGRESS and spread to drive public health and policy decisions and actions.

The opportunity is here now to provide CDC legal authority for data collection so that our nation’s data can move quickly, seamlessly, securely, and consistently.