If Many Agree to Participate in Stealing, is it Still Stealing? Stop #FEPA in the Senate: S.2046   5 comments

Knowing that the history of liberty is “the history of the limitation of government power,” I ask you to take action to stop the bills known as FEPA (HR4174/S.2046) and CTA (S.1121).  This post will focus on the first bill, which is already teetering on the edge of passing into law.

FEPA is a pompous euphemism that stands for Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking.  But “evidence based policymaking” means that they’ll redefine data theft and stalking by calling it “evidence-based research”.  Because if agencies and organizations on the state and federal level  participate in the data-looting act together, it doesn’t feel quite like looting or stealing, as it would if just one well-intentioned, evidence-collecting creep stole data by himself.

All the fancy commissions and all the big-data infatuations in the world cannot change a wrong principle into a good one.  I’d love to ask the CEP leaders face to face whether big data is so important that freedom basics should be made obsolete.  Do we no longer worry about having our personal personal power limited– in consequence of personal data being taken?  No big deal?

I used to think that while all Democrats pushed for increased government, all Republicans sought limited government.  Not now:  Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and even Trey Gowdy are supersizing government to empower big-data goals in their current bills– without any informed consent from the individuals whose data will be confiscated.

Representative Paul Ryan’s baby, the 2017 Commmission on Evidence-Based Policy, birthed this uglier baby,  Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking (FEPA HR4174)  that passed the U.S. House of Representatives without debate or a roll call vote, this month.

Unless the Senate ditches it next week, which is extremely unlikely, it will become national law.  But do you know what’s emerging in the bill?  Does your senator know?

The news media haven’t covered it, and Congress hasn’t debated it.  In fact, the House of Representatives suspended its rules to pass the House version super quickly, without a normal roll call vote: because it was supposedly so uncontroversial that there was no reason to have a real debate nor a recorded vote.

Yet it is highly controversial to those Americans who are passionate about a thing called human freedom.  We watched and listened to the CEP’s year-long hearings and submitted public comment and read the CEP’s final report.

Unpaid moms at Missouri Education Watchdog and expert lawyers at American Principles Project each recently published important warnings about the FEPA bill.   But proponents of FEPA rebutted those moms and lawyers.  What followed were brilliant, unarguable rebuttals to that rebuttal.  If truth and liberty were prime concerns to Congress, then FEPA would, following the study of these rebuttals, surely be gone.  But no.



You see, a lot of people are  counting on this particular set of claims to make them wealthy or powerful.

I am having what I wish was only deja vu.

Do you remember another Thanksgiving week, with freedom-harming bills slimeing their secretive way through Congress without debate, while most of us were too busy eating cranberries and turkey to pay attention?  Remember, after the ESSA bill passed, that then-Secretary Duncan boasted about the secretive nature of passing the ESSA bill into law.

He said, “We were intentionally quiet on the bill – they asked us specifically not to praise it – and to let it get through. And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact. . . . Our goal was to get this bill passed. . . [W]e were very strategically quiet on good stuff”.

Now it’s 2017.

Not surprisingly, proponents of FEPA (HR4174/S2046)  say that FEPA is so harmless and uncontroversial as to require zero debate– but in the same week, proponents released a myths-vs-facts sheet to Congressmen, rebutting the controversies outlined by the American Principles Project and by the Missouri Education Watchdog.   Hmm.

Additionally, although the majority of the public commenters who wrote to the CEP said that they were opposed to the data-sharing of student records without consent, FEPA does direct agencies to ignore their concerns.

FEPA says that agencies must report “statutory restrictions to accessing relevant data”–in other words, muggle bureaucrats must find ways to overcome people’s privacy rights.

FEPA gives no provisions for data security, while encouraging and enabling unlimited data swapping between government agencies.

FEPA  creates a “National Secure Data Service” with such extensive data sharing that creation of one central housing agency would be completely redundant.

There is much more.  You can read the bill.

The American Principles Project produced a rebuttal to the rebuttal of FEPA.  I am reposting just a piece of it.





Claim: FEPA doesn’t create a centralized data repository.

Rebuttal: FEPA moves toward the recommendation of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (Commission) to create a “National Secure Data Service” by 1) requiring each agency to create an evidence- building plan; 2) requiring the OMB Director to unify those plans across the entire federal government; 3) creating a “federal data catalog” and a “national data inventory”; and 4) requiring various councils to recommend how to vastly increase data linking and sharing among federal agencies, with states, and with public and private research entities.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t authorize any new data collection or data analysis.

Rebuttal: Regardless of whether FEPA expressly authorizes new data collection, it 1) incentivizes agency heads to expand, not maintain or minimize, data collection; 2) creates new sources of data for agencies by allowing unfettered access to other agencies’ data; 3) creates a process whereby public and private organizations can access non-public government data; 4) allows the OMB Director to expand the universe of statistical agencies and units; and 5) allows one person, the OMB director, to decide via post-enactment “guidance” what if any data will be exempt from sharing as too private or confidential.

Claim: FEPA “does not overturn an existing student unit record ban, which prohibits the establishment of a database with data on all students,” so parents need not worry about their children’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Rebuttal: FEPA doesn’t overturn this ban – that will almost certainly come later. But its extensive data-linking and data-sharing mandates create a de facto national database, whereby the data stays “housed” within the collecting agency but can be accessed by all. Title III specifically authorizes data “accessed” by federal agencies to be shared. This will threaten the security of not only the student data already maintained by the U.S. Department of Education (USED), but also the data in the states’ longitudinal data systems.

Claim: FEPA doesn’t repeal CIPSEA but rather strengthens it.

Rebuttal: FEPA strengthens nothing. It merely reiterates the same penalties (fine and jail term) in existence since 2002 that have rarely or never been enforced. Worse, FEPA increases threats to privacy and data security by mandating increased access to confidential data and metadata and encouraging unlimited data-swapping with no provisions for data security.

Claim: FEPA “does not respond to the Commission’s recommendations to repeal any ban on the collection or consolidation of data.”

Rebuttal: FEPA directs agency heads to identify and report “any statutory or other restrictions to accessing relevant data . . . ” Because the entire thrust of the bill is to use more and more data for “evidence-building,” the inevitable next step will be to implement the Commission’s recommendation of repealing these pesky statutory obstacles to acquiring “relevant” data.

Claim:  FEPA will make better use of existing data.

Rebuttal:  The federal government has reams of data showing the uselessness or harm of existing programs. When the government continues to fund those programs despite this data (see Head Start and manifestly ineffective programs under ESEA), there’s no reason -none- to assume it will change its behavior with even more data.


The following list of contact information is supplied by Missouri Education Watchdog Cheri Kiesecker.  Please don’t just share this on social media; actually call, yourself.  Actually tweet, yourself.  Others may not be doing their part.  Please, do yours and a few extra calls, if you can.

The Senate version of the bill (S2046) has been read twice and was referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Here is the list of the committee members.

The message is: vote no.  We don’t want information about private citizens shared at the national level, without any individual consent.

NO on  S.2046   NO on the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 (FEPA).

(And, coming up soon:  No on S.1121 – College Transparency Act – for the same reason: student privacy.)

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.


5 responses to “If Many Agree to Participate in Stealing, is it Still Stealing? Stop #FEPA in the Senate: S.2046

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  1. I am told they may very well by pass the Committee and take the bill to a full Senate vote. I wouldn’t put it past them. It is beginning to look like parents only option at this point is to find alternatives to public education. Home school in my opinion is the only safe avenue to take. What blows me away is where are the groups that should be organizing to fight this legislation? Freedom Works, Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity. How come they aren’t calling members to rally in DC against this complete and total destruction to freedom, liberty and privacy? Are they bought and paid for now as well?

  2. Like many Democrats learned through the Obama and Clinton administrations, Republicans are learning that our major political parties now only represent the super wealthy. Democrats opposing unions and Republicans expanding federal control are the new normal. I learned this working to save public education and observing the treacherous acts of politicians from both major political establishments. As a result, I no longer belong to either of these corporate dominated parties. We need a new political movement that stands for democracy, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not Silicon Valley, trial lawyers and billionaires.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I think many Americans are ready BUT the issue is not the parties. The control comes not from Congress or even our President. Many go to DC thinking they are going to fix a broken system only to find out it is not broken as far as those in control are concerned. The good guys turn bad in very short order or they don’t survive. We have 435 members of the House. Ever wonder why we only ever hear about or from a half dozen of these members??? I do and I am sure I know why. These are the ones that bring the most to the party ($$$) and so they get the choice roles to insure they get elected again. In order to keep that status they play their given role on the DC stage of Kabuki theater. It is all theater and I believe a party that you speak of will NEVER be allowed to win and if they do they will be shut down real soon. President Trump is seeing this first hand. When it comes to education there is a simple solution but parents really don’t want a solution they just want to complain then go back to watching Dancing with the Stars. The few that do care are not enough to make a dent in ending the system. What is happening can only be successful if we keep feeding the system what it needs to survive and move forward……our children. Take away the children and the system implodes and that is exactly what must happen. It is my hope that one of our TN candidates for Governor (Mae Beavers) is elected. I believe she will cut the data link between my state of TN and DC. It is our hope that once one state does it the others might follow or enough will follow to destroy their plans. DATA is what they want and they want it to control future generations. This federal database will one day result in a global database. But again I still say the answer lies with parents but free babysitting is more important to most parents. They are not willing to make the needed sacrifice.

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