Data Reliability Audit Requirements FY 2021


Publication Date: September 1, 2021


DATE: September 1, 2021

TO: State IV-D Directors

SUBJECT: Data Reliability Audit Requirements FY 2021

ATTACHMENT: Required Data Submission Specifications for FY 2021 (PDF)

Dear Colleague:

Attached are the required data submission specifications for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 data reliability audits. Please begin working with your information technology department to process this request as early as possible.

Section 452(a)(4)(C)(i) of the Social Security Act requires OCSE's Office of Audit (OA) to conduct audits of states and territories at least once every three years to determine the reliability of the performance standards used to calculate incentive payments.

OA evaluates the completeness, reliability, and security of performance indicator data reported by states and the accuracy of the reporting systems used to calculate performance indicators. This requires electronic files from each state that contain the complete, unduplicated child support case universe as of September 30, 2021, including:

  • All open IV-D cases
  • Closed cases
  • Non-IV-D cases
  • Audit trails for each line on the OCSE-157 used to compute performance indicators

Sending data in the format specified is extremely important to expedite the audit work and ensure timely incentive payments to states and territories. The process that OA uses to validate the audit trails depends on table names, field names, and data types matching the attached specifications. Any deviation can affect acceptance of the audit trails and completion of the audit. Deviations may also adversely affect the timeliness in which OCSE can issue incentive payments to states.

Audit Frequency and Audit Trail Filing Requirements

DCL-04-02, “Data Reliability Audit Process for Auditing States Less Frequently than Annually,” dated January 21, 2004, describes when OA will conduct a Data Reliability Audit (DRA). When a state or territory is not subject to a DRA, OA will conduct a Data Reliability Review (DRR) by analyzing Lines 1, 2, 5 and 6, or 8 and 9, 24, 25, 28, and 29 according to the DRR process. To review the Cost-Effectiveness performance indicator, we will also evaluate whether we can verify selected amounts reported on the OCSE-34 and the OCSE-396 to the first level of state documentation.

Whether receiving a DRA or DRR, states must ensure that the universe and the performance indicator audit trails are in the prescribed format in accordance with the OCSE-157 reporting instructions for FY 2021 and OCSE audit requirements.

The Child Support Portal will be available for upload effective October 1, 2021. States must upload the universe and performance indicator audit trails for FY 2021 to the Portal in the attached format by January 31, 2022. Failure to upload the universe and audit trails by January 31, 2022, or to follow the data submission specifications may result in the file's rejection. If OA determines that the universe or audit trails are incomplete or unreliable, you cannot revise your submission. These deficiencies will affect your incentive payments and could result in a financial penalty. Only your state's audit liaison or authorized person can upload files to the Portal.

In addition, to safeguard and ensure the integrity of your state's data, the database file of the universe and audit trails must be submitted in an encrypted zip file using the nomenclature XX21DRA = state abbreviation, year, DRA (DRR, PAT as applicable). Unencrypted or improperly named files may be rejected. Do not encrypt the database file, only encrypt the zip file. For added security, the user must provide the password for the encrypted zip file to their designated auditor(s) over the phone. Do not send an email, text, or voice mail message that contains the password.

As a reminder, submit your OCSE-157 reports through the Online Data Collections (OLDC) System. DCL-21-06, “Submittal of OCSE-157 for FY 2021,” dated August 9, 2021, provides instructions as well as rules for resubmitting previous years' data.

State System Access to Audit

Each state must provide read-only remote system access to your designated auditor(s). Contact your auditor to ensure that remote system access functions properly. Read-only remote access to your state child support system is a requirement detailed in AT-17-11, “Automated Systems for Child Support Enforcement: A Guide for States (Certification Guide),” dated September 19, 2017, that allows auditors to review sample cases efficiently and effectively with less disruption to child support operations.

Please contact OA Director Mona L. Ferrell at if you have questions.


Linda Boyer
Acting Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement

Current as of: