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NPRM: Federal Parent Locator Service Fees

AT-90-15

Published: December 19, 1990
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Federal Systems, Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS), Funding, Cost Recovery, State Systems, Cost Allocation
Types:
Policy, Action Transmittals (AT), Regulations

ACTION TRANSMITTAL

OCSE-AT-90-15

December 19, 1990

TO:STATE AGENCIES ADMINISTERING CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT PLANS UNDER TITLE IV-D OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AND OTHER INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS

SUBJECT:Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Federal Parent Locator Service Fees

ATTACHMENT:Attached is a proposed rule, published November 15, 1990 in the Federal Register, which would amend Federal regulations at 45 CFR 303.70, providing for requests by the State parent locator service for information from the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS). The proposed rule would require reimbursement from the States for the use of the FPLS for cases in which there is no required assignment of support rights to the State.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) operates the FPLS as part of its program of assisting States in securing support for children. We are proposing to seek reimbursement from States for the use of FPLS in IV-D cases in which support is not required to be assigned to the State, beginning when this rule is published in final form. States would have the option to pay the fees themselves or charge the individuals in the case. The user fee is anticipated to be a minimal amount not exceeding $2.00 per request.

Please note that there is a printing error in the proposed rule. 45 CFR 303.70(e)(2)(iii) should read "State funds used to pay the fee under section 453 (e)(2) ..." instead of "State funds used to pay the fee under section 453 (3)(2) ..."

DATES: Consideration will be given to written comments received by January 14, 1991. Address comments to: Deputy Director, Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20447, Attention: Director, Policy and Planning Division.

INQUIRIES:OCSE Regional Representatives

Allie Page Matthews

Deputy Director

Office of Child Support Enforcement

Federal Register / Vol. 55 No. 221 / Thursday, November 15, 1990 / Proposed Rules 47777

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Family Support Administration

Office of Child Support Enforcement

45 CFR Part 303

RIN 0970-AA78

Child Support Enforcement Program; Federal Parent Locator Service Fees

AGENCY: Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), HHS.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

SUMMARY: The Office of Child Support Enforcement operates the Federal Parent Locator Service as part of its program of assisting States in securing support for children. We have decided to seek reimbursement from States for use of the Federal Parent Locator Service in IV-D cases in which support is not required to be assigned to the State, beginning when this rule is published in final form. States may pay the fees themselves or charge the individuals involved in the case. The user fee is anticipated to be a minimal amount, not exceeding $2.00 per request.

DATES: Consideration will be given to comments received by January 14, 1991.

ADDRESSES: Address comments to: Director, Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade S.W., Washington, DC 20447, Attention: Director, Policy and Planning Division, Mail Stop: OCSE/PPD. Comments will be available for public inspection Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the 4th floor of the Department's offices at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew J. Hagan, (202) 252-5375.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Paperwork Reduction Act

There are no information collection requirements in this proposed regulation which require approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Statutory Authority

This regulation is published under the authority of sections 453(c)(3), 453(e)(2) and 1102 of the Social Security Act (the Act).

Section 453 of the Act was enacted as part of Public Law 93-647, the Social Services Amendments of 1974. Section 453 established the Federal Parent Locator Service and specifies the conditions under which authorized persons may request information concerning the whereabouts of absent parents. Under section 453(c)(3), "the resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a child (other than a child receiving aid under part A of this title) (as determined by regulations prescribed by the Secretary) without regard to the existence of a court order against an absent parent who has a duty to support and maintain any such child" is authorized to request Federal Parent Locator Service information. Section 453(e)(2) requires that "Whenever such services are furnished to an individual specified in subsection (c)(3), a fee shall be charged such individual. The fee so charged shall be used to reimburse the Secretary or his delegate for the expense of providing such services."

Section 1102 of the Act requires the Secretary to publish regulations that may be necessary for the efficient administration of the functions for which he is responsible under the Act.

Background

The Federal Parent Locator Service is a computerized network through which States may request location information from the Federal government to find absent parents for purposes of establishing paternity and securing support.

Under the Child Support Enforcement program, each State is required to operate a State parent locator service. See regulations at 45 CFR 302.35. The State parent locator service uses all relevant sources of information available to it in the State, such as unemployment, employer and wage information, tax records, motor vehicle records and property ownership information. In addition, the State parent locator service has access to the Federal Parent Locator Service, which obtains information available in Federal and State data bases, such as records of the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense, the National Personnel Records Center, the Selective Service, the Veterans Administration, and the State Employment Security Agencies.

The process of obtaining this location information is carefully controlled under regulations at 45 CFR 303.70 and by program instructions. A State request must come only from State parent locator service offices and authorized local offices. States must submit an annual certification, signed by the director of the State child support enforcement agency (known as the IV-D agency) or his designee attesting that requests are being made solely to locate an individual for Child Support Enforcement program purposes, or in connection with a parental kidnapping or child custody case as authorized by Public Law 96-611. All information obtained through the Federal Parent Locator Service must be safeguarded and treated as confidential.

Until now, the Department has not collected Federal Parent Locator Service fees in most child support cases, using the rationale that only individuals who did not avail themselves of the full range of Child Support Enforcement program services (i.e., non-IV-D child support cases in which the only service requested is location of an absent parent) should be required to pay the location fee. (See OCSE-AT-76-3, dated February 13, 1976.)

Changes to Existing Regulations

Fees for use of the Federal Parent Locator Service in child support enforcement cases are covered in current regulations at õ303.70(e)(1), (2), (4) and (5). Under paragraph (e)(1), the State IV-D agency must pay the fees required under section 453(e)(2) of the Act. Under paragraph (e)(2), the IV-D agency shall charge the fee to the resident parent, attorney or agent of a child who is not receiving aid under title IV-A of the Act. (To date, this has been interpreted to mean an individual who has requested location services only.) Paragraph (e)(4) requires that the fee be reasonable and as close to actual costs as possible so as not to discourage use of services by authorized individuals. Under paragraph (e)(5), the Office of Child Support Enforcement will collect the fees from the IV-D agency by an offset of the State's quarterly grant award. Other parts of paragraph (e) cover Federal Parent Locator Service fees charged to States for location requests made in parental kidnapping and child custody cases.

In this document, we propose to revise õ303.70(e)(1) to make clear that, effective when this rule is published in final form, the State must pay the Federal Parent Locator Service fee in any child support case in which individuals are not required to assign their support rights to the State. This is consistent with the requirements of section 453(e)(2) of the Act, and the original intent of Congress in 1975, that a fee shall be charged to reimburse the Secretary for the expense of providing Federal Parent Locator Services. Moreover, we are using our authority under section 1102 of the Act to expand the cases not subject to the fee to include, in addition to AFDC cases, other IV-D cases in which an assignment of support rights to the State is required (e.g., IV-E foster care and Medicaid cases).

We propose to revise paragraph (e)(2) to permit the State to charge the resident parent, attorney or agent of a child the fee or to pay the fee itself without charging the individual. This provision in the proposed paragraph (e)(2)(i) conforms to current Federal policy in paragraph (e)(3) on Federal Parent Locator Service fees paid in parental kidnapping and child custody cases. The new paragraph (e)(2)(i) would give States the same payment option in all three types of cases (IV-D cases in which no assignment of support rights to the State is required, non-IV-D cases in which location of an absent parent is the only service requested, and parental kidnapping/child custody cases).Paragraph (e)(2)(ii) would allow the IV-D agency to recover the fee from the absent parent in non-AFDC cases and repay the applicant or itself, as permitted with application fees for non-AFDC cases under õ302.33. Paragraph (e)(2)(iii) would provide that the payment of a fee by the IV-D agency is not a reimbursable expense under the IV-D program. Rather, such amounts would be counted as program income and, in accordance with õ304.50, would be excluded from quarterly expenditure claims. The current paragraph (e)(3) would be deleted.

We propose to retain the current paragraph (e)(4) and redesignate it as a new paragraph (e). It would continue to require that fees be reasonable and as close to actual costs as possible so as not to discourage use of Federal Parent Locator Services.

Current paragraph (e)(5) provides that the Federal government will collect the fees from the States by an offset of the quarterly grant awards. We propose to change this procedure to more closely match the procedure used in collecting fees from the States in parental kidnapping and child custody cases. This process is contained in current paragraph (e)(6) and may be summarized as follows.

For costs of processing requests to use the Federal Parent Locator Service, the Federal government will bill the IV-D agency periodically. As is currently the case, a fee will be charged to submit a case with a social security number to the Federal Parent Locator Service and an additional fee will be charged to cover costs of searching for a social security number before processing a request for location information. Upon receipt of a bill, the State must transmit payment to the Federal government. If a State fails to pay the fees charged, Federal Parent Locator Services may be suspended for cases subject to the fees until payment is received. Finally, fees shall be transmitted in the amount and manner prescribed by the Office of Child Support Enforcement in instructions. We propose to place the procedures for Federal collection of fees outlined above in a new paragraph (e)(4) that would cover fees in applicable child support cases and all parental kidnapping/child custody cases. Current paragraphs (e)(5) and (6) would be deleted.

We expect that States will be able to have mechanisms in place to collect and transmit the fees with minimal lead time, since they have already developed procedures for handling FPLS user fees in parental kidnapping and non-IV-D cases. To simplify procedures, States may wish to collect the FPLS fee "up front" along with the application fee for IV-D services.

Based on the number of requests for FPLS services anticipated for FY 1991, we expect to recover approximately $l million per year through the charges proposed by this regulation.

Fees Currently in Effect

Most of the billing and payment procedures, proposed for extension in this regulation to all child support cases subject to a fee, have been in effect for parental kidnapping and child custody cases since 1981 when the final regulations on use of theFederal Parent Locator Service in parental kidnapping and child custody cases were published. These procedures result in a direct payment to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, through an HHS account, and expedite availability of funds specific to operation of the Federal Parent Locator Service.

Under current policies on use of the Federal Parent Locator Service in parental kidnapping and child custody cases (OCSE Action Transmittal 81-12, dated June 15, 1981), we charge a fee of $10 for each request that contains a social security number, and an additional fee of $4 for each request submitted without a social security number. If the social security number cannot be found, the $10 fee is not charged since location requests cannot be processed without this number. A similar fee is charged for non-IV-D location requests pursuant to OCSE-AT-82-17 (dated November 12, 1982). States are notified by action transmittal in advance of any change in the fee amounts. States are currently billed on an annual basis to minimize the administration and paperwork connected with this process. Thus, despite the implementation of this rule when it is published in final form, States that expect to pay the fees themselves rather than charge for the services should have ample time to obtain any budget authorization needed to cover the cost of the fees.

We propose to extend procedures used in parental kidnapping and child custody cases to all child support cases subject to the fee, so that these requests are handled in the same manner. OCSE is currently reviewing the costs and determining a user fee which is anticipated to be substantially less than is currently charged, due to technological improvements and an expected increase in requests and the resulting economies of scale. At present, we expect the fee will not exceed $2.00 per request. Because of the low fee, the volume of requests should not be affected.

An Action Transmittal will be issued setting forth fees and procedures for billing and payment for all requests for Federal Parent Locator Services in parental kidnapping and child custody cases, cases in which an assignment of support rights to the State is not required, and requests for location in non-IV-D cases. We will review costs periodically and make adjustments to the fees and revise the Action Transmittal, if appropriate. Upon publication of the final regulation, OCSE-AT-76-3 will be rescinded, effective when this rule is published in final form.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-354), we are required to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis for those rules which would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Because the impact of these regulations is on States, and at State option individuals, these regulations would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

Regulatory Impact Analysis

The Secretary has determined, in accordance with Executive Order 12291, that this rule does not constitute a "major" rule for the following reasons:

(1) The annual effect on the economy would be less than $100 million;

(2) This rule would not result in a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; and

(3) This rule would not result in significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic or export markets.

List of Subjects in 45 CFR part 303

Child support, Grant programs/social programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program No. 13.783, Child Support Enforcement Program)

Dated: August 21, 1990

Jo Anne B. Barnhart,

Director, Office of Child Support Enforcement

Dated: September 27, 1990.

Louis W. Sullivan,

Secretary.

PART 303-STANDARDS FOR PROGRAM OPERATIONS

1. The authority citation for Part 303 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 42 U.S.C. 651 through 658, 660, 663, 664, 666, 667, 1302, 1396a(a)(25), 1396b(d)(2) 1396b(o), 1396b(p) and 1396(k).

2. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, we propose to revise 45 CFR 303.70(e) to read as follows:

õ303.70 Requests by the State parent locator service for information from the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS).

(e)(1) The IV-D agency shall pay the fees required under sections 454(17) and 453(e)(2) of the Act in cases other than those in which individuals are required to assign their support rights to the State.

(2)(i) The IV-D agency may charge an individual requesting information or pay without charging the individual the feerequired under section 453(e)(2) and 454(17) of the Act.

(ii) The State may recover the fee collected under section 453(e)(2) from the absent parent who owes a support obligation to a non-AFDC family on whose behalf the IV-D agency is providing services and repay it to the applicant or itself.

(iii) State funds used to pay the fee under section 453(3)(2) are not program expenditures under the State plan but are program income under õ304.50 of this chapter.

(3) The fees required under sections 453(e)(2) and 454(17) of the Act shall be reasonable and as close to actual full costs as possible so as not to discourage use of Federal PLS services by authorized individuals.

(4)(i) For costs of processing requests for information under sections 453(e)(2) and 454(17) of the Act, the Federal government will bill the IV-D agency periodically. A fee will be charged for submitting a case to the Federal PLS for location information. If a social security number is not submitted with the case, an additional fee will be charged to cover the costs of searching for a social security number before processing a request for location information. If a social security number cannot be found, only the additional fee will be charged.

(ii) The IV-D agency shall transmit payment to the Federal government upon receipt of a bill. If a State fails to pay the appropriate fees charged by the Office under this section, the Federal PLS services provided in cases subject to the fees may be suspended until payment is received.

(iii) Fees shall be transmitted in the amount and manner prescribed by the Office in instructions.

[FR Doc. 90-26877 Filed 11-14-90; 8:45 am]

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