Office of Child Support Enforcement
TABLE OF CONTENTS
21st OCSE Annual Report
Note: Several of this year's sections have been formatted in Adobe PDF (Portable Document File). To read these files you need to have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader loaded from the Adobe web site.
- Appendix A - 1996 Program Results (PDF)
- Appendix B - National, Regional and State Box Scores
- Appendix C - State Data Tables
- Appendix D - Glossary of Financial and Statistical Terms (PDF)
- Appendix E - FY 1996 Action Transmittals (PDF)
- Appendix F- State Child Support Enforcement Agencies (This information is outdated and has been removed on 03/09/2009)
- Appendix G - OCSE Organization Charts (Not included)
- Appendix H - Federal Legislative History of Child Support Enforcement (PDF)
Chapters 1 - 5
In 1975 Congress created the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program by enacting title IV-D of the Social Security Act for the purpose of establishing and enforcing the support obligations owed by noncustodial parents to their children.
The CSE program is a joint undertaking involving Federal, State, and local cooperative efforts. Because the States and territories run their own CSE programs, there are 54 separate systems, each with its own unique laws and procedures.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is the Federal agency that oversees administration of the CSE program. Within DHHS, the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) provides Federal oversight of the program.
OCSE sets program standards and policy, evaluates States' performance in conducting their programs, and offers technical assistance and training to States. It conducts audits of State program activities and operates the Federal Parent Locator Service, National Training Center, and National Resource Center.
The Federal Government shares in the cost of funding the CSE program by contributing to States's administrative costs and providing incentive payments to States. OCSE acts as the agent of the Internal Revenue Service in facilitating collection of overdue support from Federal income tax refunds.
State governments work directly with families through State child support enforcement agencies and/or their local counterparts. These agencies work closely with a variety of government entities in four areas: locating noncustodial parents; establishing paternity; establishing support orders; and collecting and distributing support.
State child support offices work with prosecuting attorneys and other law enforcement agencies to establish and enforce support orders. Each State CSE agency operates under a State plan approved by OCSE. State governments, and in some cases city, county, and/or local governments, participate in funding the program. In 1984, 1988, and 1993 Congress enacted significant amendments to the CSE program, providing the States with additional remedies to collect child support.
In the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the President signed into law the most sweeping revision of the CSE program to date. These amendments strengthened the ability of the nation's child support program to collect support on behalf of children and families. Among other changes, the legislation: required States to enact uniform interstate laws; provided for State and Federal registries of newly hired employees; streamlined paternity establishment procedures; established statewide support collection and distribution centers; and initiated tough new penalties, such as license revocation and seizure of assets, when child support obligations are not met.
The law also enabled the testing of child support innovations to improve program performance. At the same time, OCSE reached out more directly to its partners, stakeholders, and advocacy groups to solicit their views and enlist their collaboration in determining how best to serve the nation's children and families.
2. 1996 Program Highlights
During fiscal year 1996, State child support enforcement agencies:
- established paternity for 1,067,508 children, including in-hospital paternity establishment--an increase of more than 100 percent since FY 1992;
- established 1,081,685 support orders;
- located 5,769,391 noncustodial parents, their employers, income, or assets; and
- collected a record $12,019,346,000 on behalf of children, an increase of more than 50 percent since FY 1992.
After passage of welfare reform in 1996, OCSE immediately prepared for the task of helping States implement the new law. A critical initiative in fiscal year 1996 was the continuation of efforts to enhance relations between OCSE, the States, and other stakeholders on a basis of trust and partnership. Special attention was paid to the need to be receptive to change, as well as the importance of improving overall program performance and service to children and families.
In fiscal year 1996, OCSE made significant efforts to improve customer service, as well as to pay needed attention to special initiatives such as tribal, military, international, interstate, law enforcement, and ethnic sensitivity issues.
Executive action on child support included: an expanded effort to track parents across State lines; support for States establishing new hire reporting programs; new regulations requiring parents to cooperate with paternity establishment efforts; and new steps to enforce the Child Support Recovery Act.
3. Record IRS Collections
A record of more than $1 billion in delinquent child support was collected by the Federal Government from Federal income tax refunds for tax year 1995. The amount was 23 percent higher than the previous year, and over 1.2 million families benefitted from the program.
In announcing the increase, DHHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala noted that "tough child support enforcement promotes parental responsibility and protects children."
Under the income tax refund offset program, State child support enforcement agencies report names of parents who owe child support and the overdue amount to OCSE. These persons are notified in writing of the amount which will be withheld to cover their child support debt, and that amount is then deducted from their income tax refund. Parents may have their names deleted from the list by paying the full amount due, or, at State option, by entering into an agreement to make periodic payments. The delinquency may also be reported to credit reporting agencies.
For tax year 1995, the average collection was $847 for nonpublic assistance cases and $827 for public assistance. The cost of processing these cases was $5.71 per case.
GPRA: Strategic Planning and State Demonstrations
Signed into law by President Clinton in August, 1993, the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) reforms the way Federal agencies do business. For example, under GPRA, agencies are required to develop strategic plans. Soon after consensus on the National Strategic Plan during 1995-1996, OCSE and its State and Federal child support partners turned to development of performance indicators for each of the plan goals and objectives. Fifteen performance indicators were developed for the OCSE/State partners strategic plan. The indicators help measure the level of success in achieving strategic plan goals and objectives.
OCSE also invited States to apply the GPRA results-oriented approach to government by operating special demonstration projects at the State and local levels. Nearly 40 State and local level projects were conceived and operated during the Federal GPRA pilot. Examples include:
- Under Missouri's project PAPA (Parenting and Paternity Alliance), public and private agencies came together to pursue a common goal: fostering a community environment where parents could feel that acknowledging paternity and/or assuming parental responsibility is the right thing to do.
- Ohio began a State internal assessment project. This included a county-by-county analysis of key performance elements, phase-in of a quality assessment system, and review of their incentive structure.
- Sacramento County, California, began a private health coverage plan for children in the IV-D system. A low rate per month of coverage was negotiated with two major health insurance companies, making it easier for otherwise uninsured noncustodial parents to comply with a court order to provide health insurance.
New Hire Demonstration
On June 18, 1996, President Clinton directed the Secretary of DHHS to implement a pilot program designed to match new hire data collected by participating States with child support information contained in the Federal Government's computerized national network. The purpose of this initiative was to strengthen child support enforcement operations by enabling States to locate and withhold wages from child support obligors who have taken a job in another State. Under this program, States transmit new hire information to DHHS, where it is electronically matched against lists of delinquent parents sent by all the States. When matches are discovered, that information is returned to the State so that a wage garnishment order may be issued and sent to the delinquent parent's employer. The President also directed the Secretary of Labor to encourage State Employment Security Agencies that collect new hire information to cooperate in the pilot program.
On September 26, 1996, President Clinton announced that preliminary data from 17 States showed that the program had successfully located over 60,000 delinquent parents. Of these, 35,000 were noncustodial parents who owed support to mothers and children on welfare. Because a match is the first step in the process of locating and eventually collecting payments from an obligor, an increase in the number of matches will dramatically enhance the ability of States to enforce child support orders and increase financial support to children and families.
Under the child support provisions of welfare reform, the demonstration was superseded by a National New Hire Reporting System (discussed below).
The child support provisions of welfare reform require all States to adopt the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) by January 1, 1998. By the end of fiscal year 1996, however, 29 States and the District of Columbia had already implemented UIFSA. Three other States had enacted UIFSA into state law but delayed implementation until some time after fiscal year 1996.
UIFSA was drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and approved by the American Bar Association in 1993 as a replacement for the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA), the model interstate child support enforcement law dating back to the 1950s. URESA required enacting States to reciprocate in the enforcement of duties of support, but, since it was a State law, States enacted various forms of it. This made the interstate enforcement of support difficult in many cases. In contrast, UIFSA provides for uniform rules, procedures, and forms for interstate cases.
In fiscal year 1996, OCSE continued to work collaboratively with the States to facilitate the transition from URESA to UIFSA. To this end, OCSE organized a UIFSA Retreat by bringing together Federal, State, and local interstate CSE professionals to develop recommended "best practices" for use by the State CSE programs in implementing UIFSA.
In addition, OCSE's Interstate Forms Work Group, also comprised of Federal, State, and local CSE staff, completed its revision of the standard Federal interstate CSE forms packet. The efforts of this workgroup will ensure that these standard federal forms are compatible with UIFSA.
4. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 - Welfare Reform
Overview of Child Support Provisions of Welfare Reform
On August 22, 1996, President Clinton signed into law The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), a comprehensive and bipartisan welfare reform plan geared to make the nation's welfare system into one that focuses on work. At President Clinton's urging, the new welfare reform law included the child support enforcement measures the President proposed in 1994--the most sweeping crackdown on nonpaying parents in history.
Under the new law, each State must operate a child support enforcement program that meets Federal requirements in order to be eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grants. Many of the legislation's due dates for the child support provisions are not effective until October 1, 1997 (e.g., national and State new hire directories, IRS fees, privacy safeguards), or even into 1998 (e.g., State case registries, UIFSA). Once effective, however, States may face penalites against their TANF block grants for poor performance with respect to child support enforcement.
The law contains strong work requirements, a performance bonus to reward States for moving welfare recipients into jobs, State maintenance of effort requirements, comprehensive child support enforcement provisions, and support for families moving from welfare to work.
In addition to replacing the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with the TANF block grant, PRWORA also included some of the toughest provisions added to the CSE program since its creation. The majority of these enhancements were patterned after successful CSE initiatives pioneered by the States.
Welfare reform, through new hire reporting and other means, dramatically expands information available to the CSE program to help locate noncustodial parents. This information is not limited to information about the physical whereabouts of an individual but also includes information concerning the location and nature of assets owned by--or sources of income available to--an individual. Under welfare reform, each State will maintain Case and Order Registries. These registries will be linked to a centralized Federal Case and Order Registry. All employers will be required to report information about newly hired employees to a State agency specifically designated to receive this information, and these reports will be shared with a Federal New Hire Registry. Additionally, all States will have access to information maintained by certain public and private entities, including financial institutions.
This expansion of the levels of information available to the CSE program, coupled with the creation of centralized Federal registries will result in a comprehensive nationwide resource available to all States to locate parents who are in arrears on their child support payments.
In addition to an expansion of the information resources available to the CSE program, welfare reform included a number of other CSE program improvements. Under the new law, States will be required to establish a single disbursement unit for the distribution of child support payments. This will make the distribution of payments to families more efficient by providing employers with one address in each State to send payments to and by requiring enhanced automated processing of collections.
The legislation included improvements to assist the States in collecting child support payments from employees of the Federal Government. OCSE is required to produce new standardized interstate CSE support enforcement forms. States must make services available to residents of other States on the same basis as in-State residents and must handle interstate requests with the same priority as in-State cases. States must also treat requests for services in cases referred by qualified foreign countries as a request from another State.
Also, welfare reform will improve the CSE program by simplifying the process of periodically reviewing and adjusting child support orders and by expanding the use of credit bureau reporting.
An important part of the CSE program enhancements contained in the welfare reform legislation is the expansion of the administrative authority of State CSE agencies. All State CSE agencies will have the authority to: issue income withholding orders and subpoenas; order genetic testing in cases where paternity is in issue; intercept judgments, settlements, and lottery winnings; attach public and private retirement funds; and impose liens.
After passage of welfare reform, OCSE promptly began educating all States' CSE programs on this important new Act by preparing regional training conferences on the legislation. As the program enhancements contained in welfare reform are implemented, they are expected to result in continued increases in both paternity establishment and child support collections.
Key Child Support Provisions of Welfare Reform
National New Hire Reporting System
Welfare reform expanded the Federal Parent Locator Service to include a National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) and a Federal Case Registry (FCR) of child support case information. As a result of this legislation, the NDNH will be the largest and most current database of newly hired employee information dedicated to locating noncustodial parents and enforcing child support orders. Under the Act all employers will be required to report certain information about newly hired employees to a State agency specifically designated to receive this information. These State agencies will then match the New Hire reports against their own child support records. In addition, States will transmit New Hire data to the NDNH, where it will be matched against child support case information contained in the FCR. Matches will be reported to the appropriate State for processing and enforcement.
Because over 30 percent of child support cases involve noncustodial parents who reside and/or work in a different State than their children, the creation of NDNH will dramatically enhance a State's ability to locate delinquent parents across state lines. State agencies that operate Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Insurance programs will also have access to their State's New Hire information as a tool to assist in the detection and prevention of fraudulent benefits claims.
Streamlined Paternity Establishment
The law includes provisions to streamline the legal process for paternity establishment, making it easier and faster to establish paternities. Parties can be required to submit to genetic testing in contested paternity cases. The voluntary in-hospital paternity establishment program, started by the Clinton Administration in 1993, is expanded under welfare reform, as States are required to have a form incorporating uniform data elements for voluntary paternity acknowledgment. In addition, States must publicize the availability of and encourage the use of voluntary paternity establishment processes. Individuals who fail to cooperate, in establishing paternity, without a finding of good cause, will have their monthly cash assistance reduced by at least 25 percent.
Computerized Statewide Collections
States must operate automated data processing and information retrieval systems meeting expanded Federal requirements. States must establish central registries of child support orders and centralized collection and disbursement units. A State's disbursement unit must use automated procedures, electronic processes, and computer-driven technology for the collection and disbursement of support payments from parents, employers, and other States.
Tough New Penalties
Under the law, States can implement tough new CSE procedures. The law expands wage garnishment, allows States to seize assets and, in some cases, to require community service for past due support. It also empowers States to revoke the drivers and professional licenses of parents who owe delinquent child support.
Under a new "Family First" policy, families no longer receiving welfare assistance will have priority in the distribution of monies collected toward child support arrears.
Revised federal audit requirements emphasize performance outcomes instead of process. States are required to perform an annual review of their operations to assess whether they are meeting new Federal requirements for providing child support services.
Finally, the law enabled State and Federal partners to begin developing a new incentive funding system for the CSE program. Building on previous partnership efforts to develop the National Strategic Plan and performance indicators, State and Federal partners collaborated to make recommendations to the Secretary of DHHS.
A new incentive funding proposal, which is cost neutral and performance-based, was projected to be proposed to Congress by Spring, 1997. The draft plan would reward States with the best or most improved performance in key areas of the National Strategic Plan: establishment of paternities; establishment of support orders; collections on current support; collections on overdue support; and cost effectiveness.
5. Summary of Other OCSE Activities/Accomplishments in Fiscal Year 1996
Training and Technical Assistance
Training: OCSE's National Training Center (NTC) provided training in various forums to diversified target audiences in fiscal year 1996. The Sixth National CSE Training Conference, held on September 16-17, was attended by approximately 200 State and local CSE trainers and practitioners. The theme of the Conference was Strategic Planning and the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. At the national level, NTC worked with the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) and the Eastern Regional Interstate Child Support Association by designing and delivering numerous workshops at both groups' annual training conferences. NTC staff also worked closely with NCSEA's Judicial Recruitment/Court Administrators Committee to begin developing an NCSEA regional workshop for judges that would focus on welfare reform implementation.
NTC staff also designed and conducted training workshops for specific state events, including:
- Sessions on UIFSA were provided at the Michigan Family Support Council's Annual Conference;
- UIFSA training for two different audiences in Maryland: the Judicial Institute of Maryland and the State's child support staff;
- UIFSA training for Pennsylvania child support staff in Pittsburgh and Reading; and
- A Training of Trainers course for 24 participants of 10 States and the District of Columbia.
With assistance from the National Council of State Child Support Enforcement Administrators, OCSE's Training Workgroup, established in fiscal year 1995, designed and disseminated a State Training Needs Assessment. The results of the assessment indicated that State CSE trainers wanted assistance in Computer-Based Training (CBT) and satellite training. Once mastered, such approaches could be used in content areas rated as very important in the assessment: orientation for new workers, welfare reform implementation, customer services, enforcement techniques, and management training. Results of the Needs Assessment provide ongoing guidance to the activities of the National Training Center.
Technical Assistance: In fiscal year 1996, a new division was established in OCSE--the Division of State and Local Assistance (DSLA). The Division was established to further advance efforts to provide technical assistance to States and to help with expected welfare reform implementation issues. DSLA consists of the already existing NTC and the newly organized Technical Assistance Branch (TAB). Housed in one division, the branches work to provide training and technical assistance in a uniform manner. TAB was designed to work with OCSE's 10 Regional Offices in coordinating national resources and expertise to address States' technical assistance needs. TAB works in partnership with regional offices and States through a Technical Assistance Workgroup to develop a national technical assistance strategy. During the start-up period, TAB, the regional offices, and the Technical Assistance Workgroup developed a needs assessment survey instrument based on the major welfare reform provisions; various protocols and forms to work in partnership with regional offices and States; and a technical assistance process to deliver assistance responsively after passage of welfare reform. The technical assistance survey identified State needs, assisted in developing new resources, and help to avoid duplication of efforts in addressing over 38 topics under welfare reform. TAB also assisted in the development of legislative guides designed to help States enact their own legislation to carry out national legislative directives.
Action Through the Internet
OCSE continues to increase the effectiveness of its Web site by making information available in a timely fashion. In fiscal year 1996, OCSE developed alternative electronic methods to provide program information to its customers. As part of this effort, the agency began its CD-ROM project, the goal of which is to provide program information to States that do not have Internet capability. The agency's Web site includes a "feedback" page which enables individuals to provide comments or inquire about their cases. Using the feedback capabilities of the Homepage, OCSE was able to receive and respond to hundreds of public inquiries through the Internet. Information put on the Internet during the year via OCSE's Homepage included basic program information, newsletters and announcements, reports, policy documents, IV-D related information from outside the agency, and links to State child support Homepages.
OCSE's Division of Consumer Services (DCS) was heavily invested in customer service activities during fiscal year 1996. A joint Federal/State/local child support customer service work group has been developing tools to ascertain customers' views of the child support enforcement program. Customers include both custodial and noncustodial parents.
The work group developed a customer satisfaction survey instrument for States to use on a voluntary basis in determining the satisfaction of customers with their child support program services. The work group is also assisting in the development of two studies, proposed for the next fiscal year, on issues relevant to customers: one to look at the feasibility of developing a national customer service satisfaction survey; another to convene a series of focus groups to assess the validity and general usefulness of the work group's in-house customer satisfaction survey instrument.
Ongoing Federal Seminars
Federal seminars are held in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area to inform Federal employees of other agencies and departments of the services that the CSE program provides. In addition to DCS staff, representatives from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia's CSE offices attend in order to answer questions that may be asked pertaining to their jurisdictions. During fiscal year 1996, seminars were presented at the Department of Energy, in both the DC and Germantown, Maryland offices, and at the Department of Justice.
OCSE reached out to its Hispanic customers through the appointment of a special assistant for Hispanic affairs. Hispanic population growth outpaces all other groups. Initiatives include working with Hispanic families, translating appropriate OCSE publications into Spanish, and developing activities to enable OCSE to partner with Hispanic organizations at the national and local levels.
Child Support Report
OCSE's national monthly newsletter provides useful and timely information about the program to those who work in the field and to other interested individuals and organizations. By keeping abreast of national CSE issues and learning about what other States are doing, caseworkers, managers, and agency directors in the states can improve their own practices. Lead articles this past fiscal year were: Moving Forward--Together (October, 1995); South Dakota Drivers License Restriction Law Upheld (November 1995); Communicating Your Message (December 1995); and, all in 1996, Colorado Makes Strides in Paternity Establishment (January); Ohio Measures Statewide Performance Under GPRA (February); Putting Children in the Winners Circle (March); An Interview with Leslie Frye, President of the National Council of State Child Support Enforcement Administrators (April); South Carolina Court Goes Paperless (May); Fathers and the Family (June); Executive Action on Child Support (July); Privatization--An Interview with Montana's IV-D Director Mary Ann Wellbank (August); An Interview with Attorney General Janet Reno (September).
OCSE's public inquiries (PI) unit responded to more than 4,000 written inquiries and 7,500 telephone calls in fiscal year 1996. The PI site on the Internet triggers an additional 1,000 messages annually from people who have views about the program and questions about child support laws and practices—including questions about their own cases.
Children are the beneficiaries of the CSE program. On their behalf, OCSE provides general or specific information and referrals, as appropriate, to custodial and noncustodial parents alike, advocates, Congressional staff, and members of special interest groups.
Custodial parents frequently ask for information on how to pursue their own cases more effectively, about laws at the federal level, and about tools that might be available to secure support for their children. Noncustodial parents are more likely to talk about the anger and frustration they feel when they are unable to spend time with their children, or about their perception of the unfairness of support award amounts and the time it takes to have their order reviewed when circumstances warrant.
Congressional staff generally seek program information on behalf of a constituent. Special interest groups, advocates, students, and the media generally look for factual information about the program.
National Resource Center
OCSE's National Resource Center receives and responds to requests for child support enforcement publications and materials from a wide variety of sources. Requests by telephone and mail, for example, come from academic institutions, advocacy groups, child support enforcement offices, congressional staff, consultants, courts, employers, Federal agencies, judges, lawyers, private citizens, and State and local government.
The Center also updates publications periodically. In fiscal year 1996 the Center released the 3rd edition of OCSE's "Compendium of State Best Practices." The purpose of this publication is to help identify and share tools that child support workers have used successfully. It features ideas on program functions, techniques, and management that are viewed as effective and innovative by practitioners and that transfer readily across jurisdictions and programs.
During fiscal year 1996, 5,245 requests for publications were received by the National Resource Center. In response, 46,882 publications were mailed, including 20,000 copies of the popular "Handbook on Child Support Enforcement," a how-to guide to help parents get the child support payments their children need and deserve.
The Family Support Act of 1988 mandated that all States implement statewide, comprehensive automated CSE systems to meet OCSE certification requirements by October 1, 1995. In response to concerns expressed by States that the time required to adequately test, implement, and convert cases to the new automated systems would be sacrificed in order to meet the October 1, 1995, statutory deadline, Congress extended the deadline to October 1, 1997.
Also, in the 1996 welfare reform legislation, Congress included additional system requirements that must be incorporated in the statewide automated CSE systems by October 1, 2000. In addition, Congress provided funding at an enhanced matching rate of 80 percent to help States with the costs of the new automation requirements. The Federal share of funding available at the enhanced rate is limited to $400 million for fiscal years 1996 through 2001.
To determine whether a State's automated system meets Federal requirements, an ACF team comprised of regional and central office staff from the program, policy, fiscal, and systems areas in ACF and OCSE carries out an extensive review. The team spends a month reviewing the State's certification questionnaire responses, screen prints, manuals, results from 55 financial test deck case scenarios, and OCSE-34 reports, then travels on-site to conduct a week-long review of the automated system.
In addition to on-site reviews and regional and national conferences, ACF sponsored:
- user group meetings in Austin, Texas, and Park City, Utah, for State systems staff working in ACF programs;
- a series of child support related workshops, including several that addressed proposed welfare reform systems needs, particularly an expanded FPLS; and
- several systems workshops.
ACF systems also produced a bi-monthly newsletter - the CSENet News Flash - to facilitate the implementation and operation of CSENet, a national network designed to link child support agencies for interstate case processing.
ACF systems developed an Office of State Systems Internet page. This Web site, a part of OCSE's Home Page, provides such information as the National Status of State CSE Systems; the certification schedule; CSENet status information; Action Transmittals; CSE System Q & As; selected State questionnaires; and other materials.
Finally, in conjunction with the National Automated Clearinghouse Association, ACF systems developed two documents which provide States, employers, and financial institutions with guidance on the use of Electronic Fund Transfer/Electronic Data Interchange for the transmission of child support payments. These are: "Child Support Application Banking Convention: A Guide for Employers & their Financial Institutions;" and "Child Support Application Banking Convention: A Guide for Child Support Enforcement Entities & their Financial Institutions."
The following research and demonstration reports were completed during fiscal year 1996.
Arkansas Prenatal and Postnatal Paternity Acknowledgement Project: This project demonstrated an in-hospital paternity acknowledgement system throughout Arkansas.
A Guide to Developing Public-Private Partnerships in Child Support Enforcement: This project provided guidance to States to improve the entire privatization decision-making process, including selecting the contractor and monitoring the work.
Region VII Training Demonstration Project: This project demonstrated innovative training techniques, including computer based training, information kiosks, and leadership training.
Evaluation of Child Support Guidelines: This project evaluated the administration of child support guidelines in selected counties. The principle findings were that procedures should be carried out on a more consistent basis and that adjustments to guidelines are preferable to deviations.
Evaluation of the Child Access Demonstration Projects: This project evaluated seven State demonstrations and found that mediation allowed for establishment of parenting plans 70 percent of the time. Child support payments and visitation also generally increased as a result of mediation.
Under welfare reform, the rules for auditing State child support enforcement programs change. Audit requirements will emphasize performance outcomes instead of process. This means that the Federal Government's oversight responsibilities will be balanced with States' responsibilities for child support service delivery and fiscal accountability.
Under welfare reform, State child support agencies are required to perform an annual review of their operations to assess whether they are meeting new Federal requirements for providing child support services—including expedited services. States must report performance indicators to demonstrate how they are meeting specified goals and objectives. States that meet or exceed the performance standards for each of the performance measures will become eligible for incentive payments. States that fail to meet goals, or use unreliable data to compute performance in comparison to established standards, could face reduced levels of funding of from one to five percent of the amount of the TANF block grant.
In the change from a process-based system to a performance-based system, a new welfare reform requirement stipulates that once every three years OCSE Audit will assess the completeness, reliability and security of a State's computer-processed data and of the reporting systems used to calculate its performance indicators. OCSE auditors also will test compliance with the general and application controls and test data produced by the State's system to ensure that it is complete and reliable.
Another key feature of the new requirements authorizes OCSE to evaluate the adequacy of the financial management of a State's program. Specifically, OCSE Division of Audit is mandated to perform administrative cost audits and reviews to determine whether collections and disbursements of support payments are being carried out correctly and are fully accounted for.
The primary objective of the administrative cost audits will be to determine whether:
- costs claimed by the State for Federal reimbursement are allowable, allocable, and reasonable to the child support program; and
- the State has sufficient internal controls in operation to effectively ensure that costs claimed are valid and adequately supported.
These audits will help OCSE ensure that States bear their fair share of child support costs.
Fiscal Year 1996 Audit Results:
During fiscal year 1996, the OCSE Division of Audit issued final reports to five States based on revised Program Results/Performance Measurements audits of their programs covering various audit periods from 1994 through 1995. These audits were conducted using the revised audit regulations, which were effective for audit periods beginning on or after December 23, 1994.
Since these audits covered periods prior to the effective date of the audit regulations, these reports were advisory in nature and were not intended to reflect whether these States had an effective IV-D program in substantial compliance with Title IV-D requirements for purposes of initiating sanctions.
OCSE continued to focus its audit process on evaluating the States' financial and statistical data reporting systems and related areas which will be used to measure progress in the future. OCSE issued 15 Reporting System Review reports in 1996, as well as two Limited Cost reviews.
Additionally, OCSE continued performing Undistributed Collections reviews to evaluate the handling of these collections and determine the accuracy of undistributed collections amounts reported by States. In fiscal year 1996, five states were issued final reports.
Fiscal Year 1996 Deficiencies Noted:
Deficiencies noted in the five revised Program Results and Performance Measurements audits were in the criteria of "Establishment of Paternity and Support;" "Review and Adjustment of Support Obligations;" and "Medical Support." These States did not, in 75 percent of the cases reviewed, perform all requirements for establishing paternity and support. The States cited also did not meet, in 75 percent of the cases reviewed, all requirements to periodically review and adjust, if necessary, current support orders. Finally, the States cited did not meet all requirements to ensure the inclusion of medical support in the support orders where applicable and/or obtain all medical support information required by Federal regulations.
Deficiencies noted in the reporting system reviews issued in final in fiscal year 1996 covered all three areas of the states' reporting systems: collections, expenditures, and statistical. Eight of the 12 states' statistical systems reviewed were determined to be unreliable, while all 10 expenditure systems reviewed were deemed reliable. Eight of the 14 collection systems reviewed were found to be reliable. Minor improvements were, however, suggested for the reporting systems in all states reviewed.
Deficiencies noted in the two Limited Cost reviews completed in fiscal year 1996 included faulty cost allocation plans that did not accurately reflect costs chargeable to the child support program. In addition, one review discovered duplicate postage expenses being charged to the child support program resulting in a recommended disallowance of $710,271, as well as a telecommunication cost overcharge of $203,807. This same review also recommended that child support expenditures be reduced by $61,835 due to employees incorrectly charged to the program and for lab costs recovered and not deducted from expenditures charged.
Deficiencies noted in the five Undistributed Collections reports issued in fiscal year 1996 included instances where not all collections received were included in States' reports, and some collections being held by States were incorrectly reported as distributed.
Audit Technical Assistance:
In fiscal year 1996 the Division of Audit expanded its technical assistance activity. For example, audit staff trained one State's child support auditors on the implementation of the new audit regulations and how to audit through the computer. Staff also met with State child support division and system consultants to provide technical assistance on system requirements for audit.
In addition, OCSE auditors provided technical assistance to two States in developing a State-level review/monitoring unit and provided input to one State's auditors working on child support and single audits. The Division of Audit also has begun to provide guidance and technical assistance to the States in their efforts to establish self-assessment capabilities.
Abbreviations Used in Annual Report's Box Score by States
AFDC/FC = Aid to Families with Dependent Children/Foster Care
NAFDC = Non AFDC
C/E = Cost Effectiveness
Paternities Est. = Paternities Established
Support Orders Est. = Support Orders Established
APs Located = Absent Parents Located
FTE = Full Time Employees
Table 53: IV-A Cases In Which Custodial Parents Claimed Good Cause for Refusing To Cooperate In Establishing Paternity and Securing Child Support, and IV-A Cases In Which Good Cause Claims Were Found Valid, FY 1995
Table 67: IRS Full Collections, FY 1996