ACF Interoperability Initiative

What is Interoperability?

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.


ACF Confidentiality Toolkit - August 19, 2014

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) developed this ACF Confidentiality Toolkit to help jurisdictions successfully navigate the delicate balance between privacy and security with the delivery of efficient and effective services. The ACF Confidentiality Toolkit analyzes, explains and aids states and local jurisdictions in the navigation of a number of federal laws that impact the implementation of human services. Embedded throughout are sample documents from across the country from which jurisdictions using the Toolkit can borrow freely.  

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 - July 09, 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 promoted the understanding of interoperability statewide and developed an integrated Governance Model

  • Colorado built a Client Information Sharing System that facilitates collaboration and data sharing across their Department of Human Services and six other domains.

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

  • Indiana worked to automate and improve the state’s Vital Events Registry information, collection, and data sharing.

  • Maryland defined 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 developed the Children’s Passport, an online reporting portal that captures data from multiple data sources.

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

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

Advance Interoperability Initiative Resources

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.

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 more 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 more information, contact the ACF interoperability team at

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