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Guidance for States on the Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet) Contract Award

AT-92-05

Published: August 13, 1992
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Federal Systems, Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet)
Types:
Policy, Action Transmittals (AT)
Tags:
Electronic Communication

AT-92-05

TO: IV-D Agencies

SUBJECT:Guidance for States on the Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet) Contract Award

REFERENCE :45 CFR 302.36 and 303.7

PURPOSE:To inform States about the award of the contract to implement the Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet), a nationwide network for transmitting and receiving interstate cases, and to request the States' cooperation in implementation.

BACKGROUND:Interstate child support cases remain some of the most demanding and complicated to process. These cases often require several individuals from multiple agencies in two or more jurisdictions to coordinate the activities necessary to locate an absent parent, as well as establish, enforce and collect the child support obligation. In processing these cases, an initiating State prepares forms and sends these to another State or jurisdiction even if the case already exists in an automated format in the initiating State. To aid the States with interstate child support enforcement, the Administration for Children and Families is undertaking a project of major national importance--the development and implementation of a national Child Support Enforcement Network (CSENet).

_________________________________________________________________ DISCUSSION: WHAT IS CSENet?

CSENet is a nationwide communications network which will link State child support enforcement systems. Over the network, States will use standard transactions to electronically request or report location, paternity and support establishment, enforcement, and collection information.

Telecommunications technology and standard transactions are the essential components of CSENet. The network and its accompanying standard transactions will facilitate communication through the electronic interchange of data among the States' varied computer and telecommunications systems.

The network will serve as a conduit for the transmission of information among State automated child support enforcement systems. Although designed to work in conjunction with Statewide automated child support enforcement (CSE) systems, even States with limited or no automation will realize a significant benefit from using CSENet.

WHAT WILL THE CSENET CONTRACT PROVIDE?

The contract to implement CSENet was awarded on April 30, 1992 to International Business Machines (IBM), with Computer Science Corporation (CSC) and Deloitte & Touche (D/T) as principal subcontractors.

The contract provides hardware, software, (both off-the shelf and customized), host computer services, customer support services and developmental assistance to the States.

IBM will provide overall project management of CSENet, and be involved in system design/hardware, software development and maintenance, documentation, and in providing engineering and consulting support to the States. Deloitte & Touche will provide subcontractor support in system design, application development, training, user documentation and technical assistance to States. Computer Science Corporation will provide subcontractor support for the CSENet host services, hotline support, telecommunication design support, installation of the CSENet workstations in each State and maintenance of the hardware.

The contract also provides for technical assistance to be provided to States in developing interfaces to CSENet. This technical assistance will include guidance documents and limited on-site support.

Note: States will use FTS 2000, the Federal Telecommunications System to transmit the data. (The contractor will be responsible for monitoring usage, assisting in fault isolation and restoring telecommunication services).

HOW WILL CSENET WORK?

The workstation, software, and communications technology for CSENet will allow for maximum technical interface with the broadest number of States possible. CSENet will be implemented in a dynamic environment as States complete their efforts to automate internal statewide (CSE) systems. Some States will be able to link with CSENet immediately, while others may need an interim solution. The CSENet application software will contain options that allow States to select the features that best compliment their States' current automated situation, but the concept behind CSENet is to create a link between CSENet equipment/network and the States' automated statewide CSE systems. This in turn will create an information network in which through the statewide statewide systems and CSENet, data will automatically flow between a local child support office in one State through CSENet to the local child support office in another.

Within the overall structure of the CSENet architecture, a State will interface with CSENet under three different configurations, as follows:

oFully automated interface with the State's automated statewide CSE system;

oPartially automated interface to an existing automated State system and integration of the automated interface with the CSENet on-line functionality;

oManual interim solution using CSENet on-line functionality to provide an interface to statewide operations.

Each of these configurations is described below:

Fully-Automated Interface

Under the optimal configuration, CSENet will interface to an existing statewide automated CSE system (State host computer). This mode of exchange will be largely transparent to a user. Each night, or other regular cycle, the State host computer will download transactions to CSENet. The transactions will be edited by the CSENet error routine and any transactions in error will be transmitted back to the State host for correction (for example, if the transaction is missing a mandatory data element). Once the errors have been corrected they will be re-transmitted to the CSENet workstation for another pass through the edit process.

The outgoing transactions will be transmitted to the CSENet host on a timed schedule or at operator request. Once received at the CSENet host, they will be edited for data transmission errors and any rejections (few, if any, are expected) will be returned to the State as part of its next regular transmission.

All transactions that pass the edit routine will be sorted at the CSENet host by the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) address code and merged with transactions being received from all other States. Once all transactions have been received for that nightly cycle, the CSENet host will store the transactions by FIPS codes and the transactions will automatically be retrieved by the appropriate CSENet workstation.

When a State with a fully-automated interface receives its batch of transactions from the CSENet host, the transactions are again edited for data transmission errors and passed to a pending transaction file that is uploaded to the State host computer.

The CSENet transaction log is updated after each send or receipt transmission.

Partial Automated Interface

CSENet will allow a State with partiallyfunctional automation on its state host computer to integrate the state host data with CSENet workstation on-line functionality. For example, a State may have all the data to execute transactions but have no tracking and control functionality. The State can choose to use the transaction log and overdue events screen for this purpose.

Another example would be a State that has partial case data on its state host computer and chooses to download the data to the CSENet workstation. In this instance, the transactions will be downloaded from the State host computer in the same manner as States with a fully automated interface. Edit checks on the data received would be conducted and if certain errors existed, this error transaction would be returned to the State host for correction. If, however, the error routine noted missing data elements, then the CSENet workstation operator would have the opportunity to obtain the data necessary to complete the transaction. The process for transmitting and receiving cases from the CSENet host computer would follow that of the fully automated State.

Manual Interim Solution

Although a manual interface with CSENet is clearly not the optimal solution, there are States, which due to the status of their statewide CSE system, may not be able to immediately establish an automated interface with CSENet.

For States selecting this option, CSENet will support on-line functionality that will make CSENet an easy-to-use, stand-alone application. The benefits of using the network will clearly out-weigh the additional data entry requirements involved in manually interfacing with CSENet.

Data to be used in CSENet transactions will be entered to the workstation and edited. Workers will select and generate CSENet transactions and queue them for transmission. Before being queued for transmission, all transactions will be edited. Those that fail the edits will be rejected to an errorsuspense file and displayed on-line for immediate correction using error correction

screens that will indicate which fields are in error and provide error messages defining the errors. Transactions that cannot be corrected on-line will remain in the error suspense file for subsequent correction. If a transaction cannot be corrected, it can be deleted on-line from the error suspense file.

Once the transactions have passed the validity edits they will go through the same process as transactions in a fully automated environment.

For States who have not yet developed statewide automated CSE systems, the CSENet solution includes the capability for a State CSENet workstation to become a host to county workstations. This option would be available for manual as well as partially automated states. We will issue further details on this interim solution on receipt of the final design from the CSENet vendor.

HOW WILL STATES HAVE INPUT INTO CSENET?

To ensure that States have input throughout the development and implementation of CSENet, a CSENet Steering Committee has been established. The Committee consists of representatives from the States and ACF. State representatives were named by the National organization for IV-D Directors. CSENet Steering Committee representation is as follows:

California Connecticut

Delaware Florida

Minnesota Missouri

Texas Virginia

Washington

The primary purpose of the CSENet Steering Committee is to provide guidance and input on CSENet. Through the CSENet Steering Committee, the management and operational direction of the Network will be shaped by participation in both the development and implementation aspects of the project.

To obtain the necessary technical input into the CSENet system design and application development, the Steering Committee will designate technical systems staff to work with ACF and the CSENet vendor during the design and development phase.

WHAT IS THE STATE WORKSTATION HARDWARE/SOFTWARE CONFIGURATION?

CSENet State Hardware -

IBM PS/2 Model 80-A31

IBM 8515 PS/2 Color Display Monitor

VGA Video Graphics Board

Keyboard

Mouse

320 MB Disk Drive

3.5" Floppy Disk Drive

5.25" Floppy Internal Disk Drive

Maynard Viper 525Q Model 2525S Tape Drive

IBM 4019-001 Laser Printer

Multi-Tech Multi-Modem V.32

RS232C Modem Cable

A/B switch for asynchronous/synchronous communications

Eicon X.25 communications card

American Power Conversion Uninterruptable Power Supply

Parallel cable (25')

CSENet Software

Customized CSENet application software

SCO Unix Open Desktop Operating System

Oracle Relational Database Management System

CSENet Supplies

One box of 10 3.5" double sided, high density diskettes

One box of 10 5.25 DS/HD diskettes

Three cartridge tapes for data backup system

Five toner cartridges for the laser printer

WHAT ARE THE CSENET HOST SERVICES?

CSENet Host Computer - The CSENet Host Computer System will receive and route interstate transactions among States' CSENet Workstations. The CSENet host computer will be located in Herndon, Virginia and operated by Computer Science Corporation. The host platform is Advanced Logic Research, Inc.'s (ALR) MultiAccess Series 3000 Model 40.

CSENet Hotline Support - The Hotline technicians will serve as the initial contact with CSENet users for all CSENet activities, including FTS 2000 problems, to answer maintenance and support questions and ensure that trouble reports are logged and assigned for appropriate action. CSENet Hotline support will be available 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. The Hotline number will be equipped with a voice mail system for calls received outside normal operating hours, on weekends and on Federal Government holidays. The voice mail system has a feature that can be used in emergencies that enables the caller to exit the voice mail system and talk to a technician.

WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR IMPLEMENTATION?

The schedule for developing the CSENet specific software and installing the workstations in each State is very aggressive. Our schedule calls for the CSENet specific software to be developed, tested, accepted and the workstations to be installed by January 1993.

In the month following installation of the CSENet workstations, each State will receive one day of operator training and two days of "train the trainer" instruction.

Our implementation schedule calls for early implementation of 10-12 States. With few exceptions, these early implementation States will use CSENet with automated interfaces to their statewide systems. Early implementation States are scheduled to convert to CSENet during January and February 1993.

Starting in March 1993 and continuing through October 1993, other States will connect to CSENet in phases beginning with contiguous, neighboring States or high volume interstate caseload States and moving toward national implementation from November 1993 through April 1994. By May of 1994, States will be charged back for their share of the ongoing operational costs of the network. As all States develop statewide automated systems,

the interim and partially automatedinterfaces to CSENet will be phased-out in favor of a fully automated flow of information between CSENet and the States' automated CSE systems.

ACF is seeking the States' cooperation in developing individual roll-out or conversion plans for CSENet implementation. The CSENet Steering Committee suggested that all States work with their neighboring States or States with whom they share high interstate caseloads, so that they can begin to achieve a benefit from CSENet as they develop their automated interface.

WHAT IS THE COST AND WHO WILL PAY FOR CSENET?

The Federal government will pay for the fixed price costs associated with the first 24 months of the CSENet contract. This includes all hardware, software, installation, training and services associated with implementation and use of CSENet. Guidance to States on amending their Advance Planning Documents for reimbursement of the costs associated with the interface between CSENet and their automated CSE systems will be issued shortly.

The Federal government will also pay for an undetermined amount of developmental support to assist States in achieving a successful interface between CSENet and their Statewide automated system. The Federal Government will consider the recommendations of the CSENet Steering Committee in determining the most cost-effective allocation of the limited financial resources available for developmental support.

The State users will be charged back for ongoing costs of CSENet once operational (approximately May 1994). During the first year of charge backs, nationally, the fixed price costs associated with workstation maintenance, host and hotline services will be $386,352 a year or $32,196 a month. The charges for FTS 2000 telecommunication services will vary depending upon traffic volume, but our best estimate of traffic volume (based on WICP and FPLS traffic) is $50,000 a year or $4,000 a month. If thesecharges are equally distributed among the 52 States, the estimated cost would be less than $1,000 a month per State.

INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Designate a CSENet contact

Obtaining the participation and cooperation of States during the implementation of CSENet is critical to the success of this project. The CSENet contractor either has or will contact the IV-D Director in each State to initiate communications regarding the network. To facilitate communications and establish working relations with each State, we are asking the State IV-D Director to designate a CSENet contact person or persons with whom we can begin an ongoing dialogue regarding the State's participation in CSENet.

2. Cooperate with CSENet contractor

To assist in the installation and implementation of CSENet at each State site, the CSENet Contractor will be formulating through a combination of mail and telephone inquiries,"State profiles" of current operating procedures and environments.

3. Make plans for early implementation

Each State will be contacted by this Office shortly to discuss its conversion plans. Therefore, States should begin discussions with adjacent or high interstate caseload States to discuss early exchange of data.

________________________________

Naomi B. Marr

Director

Office of Information Systems Management