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Data Standards Endorsement of the Child Support and Court/Judicial Message Exchange Data Model


Published: October 23, 2008



DATE: October 23, 2008


RE: Data Standards Endorsement of the Child Support and Court/Judicial Message Exchange Data Model

Dear Colleague:

The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is pleased to announce the endorsement of the Child Support and Court/Judicial Message Exchange Data Model by the Data Standards Oversight Board (DSOB) on September 25, 2008. This endorsement provides data standards for the Child Support community to facilitate an automated data exchange with the courts/judiciary. Automating the data exchange will result in consistent data which will speed up the execution of child support orders allowing more time to increase the services to families. While this exchange is not mandated, we highly recommend this since it meets the business needs to provide a common structure for automated exchange of information and documents between participating child support enforcement (CSE) agencies and courts. The endorsement of this model by the Conference of Chief Justices within the National Center for State Courts will be final on October 31, 2008.

The electronic exchange of data between the courts and CSE agencies can improve child support collections and services for children and families. The advantages of automation include:

  • Increased Collections – Quicker delivery of child support orders as well as quicker child support order establishments and enforcement actions lead to timelier initiation of collections.
  • Improved Access to Current Case Information – Alleviates the need for staff (caseworkers, court staff, process servers, attorneys, etc.) to call, fax, or email requests for current case information.
  • Faster Case Intake/Potential for Automated Case Initiation – Reduces data entry time per case and staff time dedicated to data entry.
  • Paper Reduction – Achieves dollar savings in paper, postage, storage, courier, etc. as well as minimizes the staff burden of archiving records and destroying archived records according to State regulations for both child support and judicial entities.
  • Error Reduction – Single entry for electronic exchange reduces the opportunity for keystroke error and thus decreases the time spent by child support and judicial/legal agency staff correcting data entry errors.

This journey started on August 9, 2001 with OCSE sponsoring the National Judicial-Child Support Task Force as part of our continued focus on child support/judicial collaboration. One initiative of the Task Force was to improve electronic data exchange between State CSE agencies and courts. DCL-08-01 provides business case templates to support the States and courts in their electronic exchange of information.

At the same time, OCSE in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts worked to develop uniform electronic data exchange standards for use between State CSE agencies and courts. The original XML Specifications were published on February 22, 2002 and the project reflects the continued focus of OCSE on using technologies to improve child support collections for children. This project is in-line with Strategy 6 in the OCSE FY2005-2009 Strategic Plan to “Use specific collaboration protocols with other agencies that serve our clients, emphasizing timely, accurate data exchange.” OCSE’s strategy for achieving this included standardization, increased support for data sharing across jurisdictions and developing an effective communication model between CSE agencies and courts. This approach was supported by the courts through the passing of a resolution by the Conference of Chief Justices stating that standards should be used nationally unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.

The new data standards were developed through integration of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and CSE standards. NIEM is a culmination of the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM) and Legal XML, which were pioneer efforts at an exchange model. It is also a continuation of the work started in 2003 to automate the exchange of court data. Georgia, New York and California have adopted these earlier efforts with cutting edge initiatives mostly on the e-filing side for petitions. The good news is that NIEM is consistent with these earlier standards. As States start to think about moving beyond the filing aspect, we recommend using this exchange model for future data exchanges, such as responses from the courts. A proof of concept using these standards is under development by Colorado, which will provide the courts and CSE communities with valuable insight to the implementation of the data exchanges.

For additional information regarding the Child Support Message Exchange Data Model, please contact Robin Rushton at (202) 690-1244 or robin.rushton@acf.hhs.gov.


Margot Bean
Office of Child Support Enforcement

cc: Regional Program Managers
Conference of State Court Administrators

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