Making Birth and Death Certificates Timely and Securely Available: NYC Health Department’s Commitment to Protecting Identity and Improving Online Services

By Jian Liu, Chief Information Officer, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)

One of our primary responsibilities at the Health Department is to verify and process hundreds of thousands of requests related to vital records — namely, birth certificates, death certificates, and burial permits. To make sure our security features are up to par with industry standards, we’re in the process of updating our online system with a new program called eVital. When fully implemented, this new software will include a single sign on making it easier for users to access the program, improved anti-fraud features to mitigate identity fraud, and enhance identity management overall. It will also enable the City to gain the total ownership of software development and support in the long run.

After rolling out the new software last week we became aware of performance issues. To reduce the impact on facilities using the system to report births and deaths, we immediately reverted back to the previous software, EVERS (Electronic Vital Events Registration System), which has been operational since 2005.

Regrettably, during the four days the new system was live some funeral directors and hospitals experienced delays in their requests. To assist them, our Office of Vital Records deployed staff into late night hours and extended hours of operation, including over the weekend. We also increased capacity of the Burial Desk to answer any questions and address concerns, particularly from funeral directors and doctors citywide. New Yorkers using the Health Department’s website to request copies of birth and death certificates are not affected by this software change.

Thankfully, the rapid response undertaken by our staff and experts prevented any gap in these vital services.

As we work to address technical issues encountered during the rollout of eVital, users should be able to use the old system without any issues, and expect the same secure and timely services that the Health Department has provided through EVERS.

We regret the inconvenience caused by this software update. The Health Department remains committed to reducing the impact of this update on our customers, as we work to upgrade our systems and lead the nation in providing online security services to our residents.

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