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Recommendations from Location Codes (aka FIPS) Workgroup


Published: June 7, 2006



ATTACHMENT: Summary of Recommendations from Location Codes Workgroup

DATE: June 7, 2006


RE: Recommendations from Location Codes (aka FIPS) Workgroup

Dear Colleague:

Child support enforcement (CSE) agencies have long used a combination of state and county identifiers to meet a variety of business needs, e.g., document routing, office identification, reporting. With the expansion of the child support program to include international IV-D cases and tribal IV-D cases, it was determined that they need to be identified for reporting and case management purposes.

In May 2005, the Location Codes (FIPS) Workgroup of state, tribal and OCSE representatives was formed to discuss a series of alternative solutions for coding cases to identify their location. Subsequent conversations with states and tribes revealed that solution options were constrained by:

  • The potential for significant systems impact. Currently Location (FIPS) codes are used in numerous data transmissions and are embedded in various applications and databases.

  • The limited ability to assign additional codes. Location (FIPS) code data field length is 5-digits and the format is numeric.

After looking at the effect several alternatives could have on systems and case processing, the workgroup has come up with a recommendation for your review. Attached to this DCL is a summary of the recommendation with examples.

This recommendation, endorsed by the workgroup on April 6, 2006, suggests the following:

  • Continue to use the current 5-digit Location (FIPS) code for states.

  • Use a 5-character identifier for tribal and international cases.

  • Uniquely identify tribal cases with “9” in the first position, 0-9 in the second position and follow with a 3-character tribal code defined by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, (BIA).

  • Uniquely identify international cases with “8”in the first position, use 0-9 in the second position and follow with 3-character country code identifiers defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO). {Note: see exception for Canada}

While this coding for tribal and international cases is not mandated, it does meet the business needs for reporting and case management. CSE agencies could add these codes as other enhancements are made to their systems.

We are requesting that you review the workgroup’s recommendation and conduct an impact analysis for your CSE system during a 30-day review period.

Please email your comments, any alternative solutions, and the results of the impact assessment on your systems to Richard Ordowich at richard.ordowich@acf.hhs.gov within 30 days of receiving this letter. Following this review period, OCSE will submit a final recommendation for tribal and international identifier codes.

To receive more information regarding Location codes or the workgroups recommendation, please contact Richard Ordowich at (202) 260-5495 or richard.ordowich@acf.hhs.gov.


Margot Bean
Office of Child Support Enforcement

cc: Regional Program Managers
ACF Regional Administrators

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