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State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events

model Collaborative Organizational Development
service type Public Health
country United States
states AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY, DC, VI, PR
government type state
license unknown
another website

Note: We have profiled this collaborative in depth in our Anatomy of a Collaborative series: NAPHSIS.


State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events (STEVE) is a data-exchange system to allow states to exchange vital records (births and deaths). The current version of the software, which launched in 2016, sends this statistical data to the National Center for Health Statistics. It’s a product of the National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), which was formed in 1933. Fifty states, New York City, Washington D.C., and two territories participate in STEVE (Guam and American Samoa lack electronic birth and death registration). STEVE is funded by member fees, which are set at a cost-recoverable level.

Historically, these records were synced manually — big boxes full of paper records, sent between states annually. STEVE was established to digitize this. Each state has different rules about when records become public and with whom they can be shared in the interim, which results in complicated permissions accompanying each record.

This is the system that feeds the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. Death records are particularly important for benefits programs, to ensure that no beneifts are going to people who are deceased, or fraudulently claimed in the name of somebody who is deceased. Birth records are likewise an important part of verifying somebody’s identity.

NAPHSIS owns the proprietary code and is the product owner overseeing feature prioritization, but outsources development and maintenance of the system to a vendor. STEVE is governed by NAPHSIS and its members. Participants of the system include federal stakeholders at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), and state/local government agency users. Member vital records offices sign an interjurisdictional exchange (IJE) agreement when joining STEVE’s system, which outlines their involvement in STEVE’s governance. The IJE agreement’s founding principle is that data exchanged within STEVE is always owned by the sending jurisdiction, and the specific use for the data exchanged is governed by the use case of the mailbox it is sent to. STEVE was first built for inter-jurisdictional exchange of records amongst vital records offices, and this remains its primary function for members. It is a very reciprocal relationship among vital records offices throughout the nation, and STEVE provides the avenue to securely and routinely transmit vital record updates. Jurisdictions are encouraged to use STEVE mailboxes for data exchange with local/state agencies and federal/national partners as well. The agreements between jurisdictions and any parties outside of the vital records offices, including CDC, are managed separately.

See also: EVVE.