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Eligibility APIs Initiative logo

Helping states turn federal eligibility policy into action

Project description

The Eligibility APIs Initiative (formerly the Eligibility Rules Service) is exploring how federal eligibility-based programs could use a centralized web service—an eligibility API—to deliver machine-readable policy that state systems can integrate with their eligibility & enrollment systems and act on.

In this new model, policy changes made at the federal level would propagate out to states, including state implementation variations, rather than states each having to undertake a costly, redundant, time-consuming, error-prone process to update their systems individually.

To see our progress, visit this project's wiki.

What we believe this model can achieve

  • Cost-efficiency: A federally-built API that can deliver eligibility rules to many state systems at once dramatically reduces the complexity and cost of building and maintaining state systems, because those systems no longer need to build or maintain eligibility rules in their own rules engine product.

  • Reduced risk: Centralizing eligibility business logic at the federal level provides more flexibility and reduces risk for states who need to modernize their benefits systems. Instead of modernizing an entire massive system in a large risky project, states can strategically disconnect and reconnect pieces of the system gradually, significantly reducing their risk.

  • Integrity: In this model, program eligibility rules are centrally maintained by the Eligibility API at the federal level. If rules or policy change, those changes can be made at the API level and will propagate out to all connected states automatically. This greatly reduces the risk of state systems being out of sync with federal rules.

  • Transparency: Because the eligibility rules are written in publicly-available code, people can view them and confirm that systems are behaving as expected. There's no "black box" where eligibility criteria are hidden away; instead, the programatic rules are open to public review.

  • Innovation: An API is a technique that is widely used within modern digital service design to provide controlled, secure, flexible access to a system's data. Using an API to deliver eligibility rules would create an open canvas for creative technologists and civil servants to come up with exciting and powerful ideas to serve the public that we haven't even thought of yet.

Phases 2 and 3


Phase 4

See Phase 4 project resources.

Want to know more?