Modernizing Child Support Enforcement Systems

March 16, 2021
Systems Update Graphic

AUTHOR: Raghavan Varadachari

Spring cleaning is in the air, and many states, territories, and tribes (collectively referred to as states) may be considering how to modernize their child support enforcement systems. Modernizing first generation systems required a state to prepare a comprehensive feasibility study using guidance from 1993 and policy clarifications of automated systems from 2006. This type of feasibility study is expensive ($2M - $5M) and time consuming; it could take up to three years to document (400-600 pages, plus attachments) and another year to collaborate through the OCSE review and approval process. In today’s world of rapidly advancing technologies and system development platforms, this may result in a modernization choice that’s obsolete before the project’s development phase begins.

Streamlined Feasibility Study
OCSE determined that more efficient processes were required and developed the Streamlined Feasibility Study (FS) approach to simplify documentation associated with modernizing next generation child support systems. This simplified process recognizes the analysis that states are already performing, establishes a streamlined analytical approach, and develops a high-level framework for both analysis and document preparation. It also provides simplified cost analysis worksheets (and other supporting artifacts) to enable a state to analyze, compare, and document modernization alternatives efficiently.


  • Function point, scoring, and weighting analyses
  • Cost modeling, break-even point, and 15- to 20-year lifecycle cost analyses
  • The need for a state to travel to other states to evaluate candidate transfer systems
  • OCSE’s preparation of a comprehensive Feasibility Study IV&V Report and required travel to a state for on-site IV&V assessment review meeting(s)


  • Level of effort for the requirements analysis, analysis of alternatives, cost benefit analysis, risk assessment, and alternative selection
  • Level of detail and complexity for documentation to 50-100 pages for a streamlined FS document, plus cost spreadsheets and supporting artifacts/ appendices as needed (and simplifies preparation by enabling state personnel to prepare these documents)
  • Modernization Timeline = Planning Phase + Development Phase + first 3 years of the O&M Phase
  • OCSE review time from 60 days to as little as two to three weeks.

Begin modernizations sooner
Using this Streamlined FS approach may significantly reduce the time, effort, and cost involved with conducting modernization studies. This approach potentially accelerates the federal review and approval process, enabling states to begin development of a solution sooner than they were able to previously. Learn more about the Streamlined Feasibility Study approach.


Raghavan Varadachari, OCSE Director of Division of State and Tribal Systems

This blog gives the commissioner a forum to communicate directly with child support professionals and other stakeholders about relevant topics. The Commissioner’s Voice is reprinted from the March 2021 Child Support Report newsletter.

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