EMPLOYER DATABASE CONFERENCE
Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District
of Columbia, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi,
Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina,
Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington
Linda Deimeke, Gina Barbaro, Nancy Benner, and State TS Team
Duplication of employers on the database was considered the most
pervasive problem. Several states employ matching routines to
prevent automatic duplication of employer records. In addition,
controlled access to the database can prevent manual
- Rhode Island matches first on the State Employer Identification
Number (SEIN) and then the Federal Employer Identification Number
(FEIN) to avoid duplicating employers on their database.
- North Carolina attempts to find the employer on their system by
either matching on the FEIN and address, or a standardized employer
name and address. If they are unable to find a match on either of
these criteria, they attempt the match based on a standardized
address alone. If they find a match on the address alone, they
determine if the address is for a known payroll or unemployment
insurance service provider rather than an employer address. If no
match is found, they add the employer to their employer table and
tie the employer information to the participant.
- Kansas uses the employer FEIN and the postal zip code to match
with existing employers in their database.
- Many states, including North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan
and Mississippi, that use names and/or addresses in their matching
routines, strip out special characters such as dashes, periods,
ampersands and number symbols. Some states, like Minnesota, also
strip out unneeded words such as "and", "Inc.", "Corp.", and "the".
Both these measures help improve the chances for more matches and
- North Carolina, Nevada, Connecticut, and New Hampshire
periodically use routines to eliminate duplicates within their
employer databases. A few states have automated processes in place
to merge duplicate employer records at the request of a user. The
states agreed that these are complicated processes that are not
- Connecticut’s merging process simply consists of a
program that replaces an old (undesirable) sequence number with the
new sequence number at the request of a user. Connecticut uses
sequence numbers to differentiate between employers’
different addresses as well as employer/non-custodial parent (NCP)
combinations. This process is not complicated because the sequence
numbers are stored in only a few places on their system. (The
sequence number is a system-generated number attached to each
unique employer address.)
Many states, including North Carolina and North Dakota, use
commercial off-the-shelf software such as FINALIST or CODE ONE to
clean up and format addresses before storing them in their
databases. This process, known as scrubbing, can also validate
address and zip code combinations. Other states, like Texas, employ
their own in-house scrubbing routines.
- North Carolina periodically eliminates employer records that
are no longer linked to NCPs and/or income withholding orders.
North Carolina also went through an initial process to remove these
unnecessary records and standardize employer names and addresses.
Although a tedious task, this has helped them maintain an accurate,
- Minnesota requires an exact match of employer FEIN and name
before loading a new employer into their system. If an exact match
is not found, a person must verify the FEIN and other information
before loading the employer into the database. Approximately 30
employers out of 300 received per day from various sources,
including the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH), the National
Directory of New Hires (NDNH), and information from the custodial
party, require manual validation.
- Illinois requires an exact match of employer FEIN or SEIN. If
no FEIN or SEIN is received, a person must research and verify
information before adding the employer to the database. If, for any
reason, employer information cannot be validated, the information
is stored in the system participant’s demographic record, not
in the employer database.
- Texas employs a team of people to research and verify
information before adding employers to their database.
- Many states allow more than one address per employer record.
The address records are often differentiated by sequence numbers.
In Minnesota, the database contains a distinct field for each type
of address, e.g. corporate address, payroll address and work site.
Having a distinct field for the work site address is often helpful
for service-of-process. Other states, like Connecticut, add
sequence numbers as new addresses are identified for each employer.
In some cases, the correct address for income withholding is
identified on the system’s participant demographic record and
only the employer’s corporate address is stored in the
- Minnesota’s employer database includes fields for
employer name and an additional employer name if a company is known
by two names. The example given for this situation was a franchise
operation such as Smith Restaurant Company doing business as the
The Key to the Employer
- Several states, like Minnesota and Colorado, have systems that
create a unique identification number for each employer record in
the employer database. Some use this unique identification number
as the key to the record, so they may store multiple employers for
one FEIN or SEIN. Or, sometimes the FEIN or SEIN is not known or
does not exist – some federal agencies do not have an
- Nevada uses either the FEIN or SEIN for the record key in their
employer database. While converting to their new system, Nevada
created pseudo FEINs for existing employer records missing them, so
the record could be stored. They estimate that 25% of their
approximately 125,000 employer records are stored with pseudo
- Some states do not have an employer database per se. Many of
these states store the employer information in the system
participant’s demographic record.
- The Rhode Island child support agency shares an employer
database with several other agencies. The database is used for
service-of-process as well as for income withholding notices. The
employer record has a notes field so that an indication can be made
as to the type of each address, e.g. corporate headquarters,
payroll office, or work site. Access to the system is controlled by
limiting the number of workers who can use the database.
- Connecticut restricts access to their employer database to a
limited number of workers. These workers update the information
using forms received from line staff and research automated entries
with limited or incorrect information. They also have a quality
control process in place to make sure that manual entries are
complete and accurate.
- Nevada has a help desk that receives requests from line staff
to update the employer database.
- Generally, only four people in Minnesota have update access to
the employer database. This team researches and validates all
requests before entering the data. They meet a state two-day
turn-around requirement for data entry requests.
- Tennessee recently limited update access to their employer
database. They have thousands of duplicate employers that they are
struggling to clean up. They feel that they might have waited too
long to limit access.
- Indiana and Rhode Island do not currently limit update access
to their employer database. However, they realize this is causing
Third Party Service
The group discussed the problem of receiving a third party
service provider’s address with a valid employer FEIN. Many
states were not aware that this was occurring – either
because their system solved the problem by using an address
existing in their database for the indicated FEIN, or the third
party service provider forwarded the income withholding order to
the correct employer or returned it to the child support agency to
- Virginia created a file of addresses for the known third party
service providers. New employer records are matched against this
file to determine if the employer address provided is that of a
third party service provider. Non-matches are sent to workers for
research and appropriate action.
- Tennessee has an indicator in their employer database to
designate an address as that of a third party service provider.
Matches with these addresses require manual intervention.
- Minnesota has a subtype of employer for the third party service
- OCSE has produced a CD of employers who use third party (UI)
service providers. For the past two years this CD has been sent to
all states and can be provided again upon request.
- Utah created a "third party" table to store employer and health
insurance information. The code "EMPL" designates an employer and
"INSR" designates an insurance provider.
- Rhode Island has a health insurance indicator on the case level
record but not in the employer database. They are planning to move
the indicator to the participant demographic record. The notice for
insurance is automatically sent at the same time as an income
withholding notice but in a different package since the income
withholding notice legally requires certified mailing.
- Mississippi is legally required to send income withholding
notices via certified mail, so their health insurance forms are
- In Iowa, the health insurance indicator is not in the employer
database. They surveyed their employers to determine if the
employers preferred to receive the income withholding notice and
the health insurance notice together in one package or as
individual packages. The employers preferred to receive the two
notices separately since they are processed in different divisions
within the company (payroll vs. benefits).
- North Dakota has a field in their employer database to indicate
if health insurance is provided. If an NDNH or SDNH hit matches an
employer who provides insurance, a worker alert is created
indicating that the forms are required.
- Utah found a combined income withholding/health insurance
notice to be too massive and costly. They now send the forms
Questions and Answers
- Question: Where can states find the list of federal agencies
and their addresses for income withholding documents?
Answer: The federal agencies and their addresses can be
- Question: Some federal employers use the same FEIN for multiple
agencies. How do we make sure we send the income withholding to the
correct federal agency?
Answer: Not all federal agencies have their own FEIN. Some
larger agencies have FEINs and others have FIPS codes. Federal
agencies use a variety of FEINs assigned by the General Services
Administration. Smaller agencies may have no FEIN. Please note that
OCSE sent states a list of addresses for federal agencies. The
states should use these specified addresses to send income
withholding notices. The OCSE website address for obtaining this
information can be found in the response to Question #1
- Question: Are all states sending SEINs and FEINs in the correct
Answer: Yes. (If any state discovers that this is not
correct, please contact us.)
- Question: The Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals have many
different sites for income withholding but one FEIN. How do you
Answer: Minnesota creates one master employer for the
payroll division and lists all others as "sub-sites." OCSE has
produced a listing of VA income withholding addresses that is
available on the OCSE website.
- Question: How do we handle Labor Ready? (Labor Ready is a
temporary services employer that provides work site addresses in
their new hire reports instead of the payroll address.)
Answer: Having one FEIN for multiple employer locations
may solve the problem. Colorado points all Labor Ready matches back
to one income withholding address. OCSE determined after the
conference call that Labor Ready is in the process of cleaning up
its FEIN and income withholding addresses.
- Question: How are states handling attachments for Social
Security benefits? Originally we were sending them to one location
in Baltimore, MD. Now we send them to local offices.
Answer: Colorado has multiple locations for one FEIN and
does not have a "pointer" to a central payroll office, so notices
go to individual offices. Also, the Social Security Administration
(SSA) has a locator service on their website. When effecting income
withholding for SSA employees, Pennsylvania references their
employer table and sends the income withholding to one central
location in Denver, Colorado. If SSA benefit information is
received, they refer to their "Other Party table" that contains
each local SSA office within Pennsylvania. Caseworkers may select
from this table when issuing income withholding for SSA
- Question: Where can states find Minnesota’s best practice
for clean up of their employer database?
Answer: This information can be found in Dear Colleague
Letter (DCL) 00-08, dated January 14, 2000. This DCL transmits the
Division of Federal Systems’ (formerly the Division of
Program Operations) guide entitled "Tips, Techniques, and
Technology, in Using FPLS Data." This guide will be posted to the
Administration for Children and Families’ website
- Question: What is the file name used when the NDNH returns
corrected Social Security numbers to the SDNH?
Answer: This file name was created by each state and
submitted to the SSA for transmission purposes through
CONNECT:Direct. If a state would like to know its particular
filename, please contact your State Technical Support Liaison: Amy
Ballenger at 703-345-8092 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
Deborah Edwards at 703-345-8105 or email@example.com,
Kerry Newcombe at 703-345-8094 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Linda Hudson at 205-991-6399 or email@example.com.