ACF Interoperability Initiative

Interoperability Defined

Interoperability refers to the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information to make better decisions. The term is often used in a technical engineering sense and also in a broader sense, taking into account social, political, and organizational factors that impact performance.

Too many barriers stand in the way of clients getting the services they need. “Interoperability”—a national effort of technological and programmatic coordination—is poised to eliminate many of those barriers. Today, the emergence of “interoperable technology” offers an unprecedented opportunity to connect systems across traditional boundaries in exciting and rewarding ways. This interconnectivity represents the cutting edge for development of new service models and approaches to maximize positive outcomes for children, families and communities.


Program Instruction ACF-OA-PI-13-01

ACF-OA-PI-13-01 describes the waiver process for the use of federal funding for Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) software products in human services programs 

State Systems Interoperability and Integration Project Grants - Updated March 11, 2014

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation provided the Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families (HHS/ACF) funding for the State Systems Interoperability and Integration Projects (S2I2).  This planning grant funded 12-month grants for seven states to explore and plan improved interoperability and integration in eligibility and enrollment, case management, and other related functions to help streamline administration processes and strengthen program integrity in federal assistance programs across health and human services information technology systems. Grants were awarded to the states of California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, and Oklahoma.

  • California is promoting the understanding of interoperability statewide and is developing an integrated Governance Model

  • Colorado is building a Client Information Sharing System that will facilitate collaboration and data sharing across their Department of Human Services and six other domains.

  • Illinois is developing a sustainable Governance Model for the Healthcare and Human Services Framework.

  • Indiana is automating and improving the state’s Vital Events Registry information, collection, and data sharing.

  • Maryland is defining interoperability and its impact on client outcomes at the practice level “Life of the Case” Workflow Analysis Model, and Return on Investment Models and Calculator.

  • New York is developing the Children’s Passport, an online reporting portal that will capture data from multiple data sources.

  • Oklahoma is building a roadmap that will help redesign the Eligibility and Enrollment system, integrate Service-Oriented Architecture, and expand the Enterprise Service Bus.

Originally, all seven state S2I2 grantee projects were scheduled for completion on September 30, 2013.  However, ACF approved no-cost project extension requests for five of the seven states to complete their project goals and objectives.  The grantee states of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and New York were all granted project extensions for the period October 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.  The grantee states of California and Oklahoma have completed their projects and submitted final reports to ACF which will be posted here, as will all remaining grantee reports and associated deliverables.

The Affordable Care Act and Child Support

A presentation for the 2013 NCSEA Policy Forum on the opportunities available to states for developing eligibility and enrollment systems under the Affordable Care Act exception to OMB cost-allocation requirements

Resources Available from ACF to Advance Interoperability Initiatives

Guidance on Funding and Cost Allocation 

Resources related to cost allocation in health and human services systems

Cost Allocation Toolkit

The Cost Allocation Methodology (CAM) Toolkit helps states determine equitable distributions of software development costs to federal and state benefiting programs over the system development lifecycle.

Interoperability Toolkit

A compendium of interoperability documents is designed to help state human services agencies connect with their health counterparts and maximize Affordable Care Act benefits.

Interoperability Toolkit 2012
Interoperability Toolkit 2011

National Human Services Interoperability Architecture (NHSIA)

The National Human Services Interoperability Architecture (NHSIA) proposes a framework to facilitate information sharing, improve service delivery, prevent fraud, and provide better outcomes for children and families. For further information, contact the ACF interoperability team at (

National Information Exchange Model (NIEM)


NIEM—the National Information Exchange Model—is a community-driven, government-wide, standards-based approach to exchanging information. For further information, contact the ACF interoperability team at (

NIEM Human Services Domain
NIEM Human Services Domain Charter
NIEM Human Services Domain Operations & Maintenance Plan