The Bipartisan Budget Act included provisions limiting immediate access to the SSA Death Master File to all but those certified under a program to be developed by the Department of Commerce.
Commerce intends to follow a robust notice and comment process in the development of the Certification Program. Expect an announcement of a Request for Information (RFI) to be published shortly in the Federal Register and on the project web page at: http://www.ntis.gov/products/ssa-dmf.aspx . It is also likely that some form of a public hearing will follow.
Updated 2 March: On the 26th of February the anticipated Request for Information became available on the NTIS site above with the official publication in the Federal Register to follow. DMF NOTICE (2)
The RFI also announces a public meeting at which members of the public may provide comments on the establishment of the certification program for access to the DMF in person on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm Eastern time at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Madison Building West, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22341.
RPAC representatives are planning to participate in this public hearing. Attendance of others (and the conduct of the hearing itself) may be influenced by a forecasted winter storm. While we do not want to discourage others from attending this public hearing, concern for safety should be a major factor in your decision to do so. If you anticipate that you will be able to attend, please email email@example.com and provide your contact information so that we may know of your availability and interest.
RPAC and component organizations are planning to provide comments on the RFI within the specified 15 days from the Federal Register publication date. If published as promised on 3 March, that would be 5pm Eastern on Tuesday, 18 March. Other individuals and organizational members of the genealogical community (especially those for whom a three year delay before having access to the DMF/SSDI would be problematic) are strongly encouraged to comment on the RFI as well.
After analyzing the comments in response to this RFI we understand that a proposed draft of the certification program contemplated by the Bipartisan Budget Act will be published to be followed by what we hope will be a further robust notice and comment process.