District of Columbia:

More Details Needed on Plans to Integrate Computer Systems With the Family Court and Use Federal Funds

GAO-02-948: Published: Aug 7, 2002. Publicly Released: Aug 7, 2002.

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Congress passed the D.C. Family Court Act of 2001 to reform court practices and establish procedures to improve interactions between the District of Columbia's Family Court, of D.C. Superior Court, and social service agencies in the District. The act directed the Mayor to prepare a plan to integrate the computer systems of District agencies with those of the Court. The fiscal year 2002 D.C. Appropriations Act authorized $200,000 for integrating the computer systems and $500,000 for social workers to implement family court reform. The act also required the Mayor to prepare a plan for these funds and mandated that the plan be issued on July 8, 2002. The Mayor's plan provides such useful information as (1) an outline of the District's current health and human services information technology environment and its information needs and limitations regarding the Family Court, (2) planned and possible short- and long-term initiatives to integrate the District's computer systems with those of the Family Court, (3) five technological integration priorities, and (4) how the $200,000 in appropriated funds will be spent. However, the District has not yet completed essential analyses, such as a requirements analysis, that would provide the basis for additional information. Based on GAO's analysis of the Mayor's plan for using the $500,000 in appropriated funds, it is not clear how the funds are to be used for social workers to implement family court reform, as required by law. The plan discusses the District's use of funds for service liaison, on-site coordination, and border agreement activities, but provides no detail on whether and how these activities involve social workers.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: When commenting on this report in August 2002, the District's City Administrator cited the city's efforts to improve its information systems, but did not specifically address this recommendation. Furthermore, although the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) has continued to work toward integrating systems with the Family Court, OCTO has not prepared a report to the Congress on the District's progress in integrating its computing systems with those of the Family Court as recommended.

    Recommendation: To keep the Congress fully informed about the District's progress in implementing court reform, the Mayor should periodically report to Congress on the District's progress in integrating its computer systems with those of the Family Court. These reports should provide milestones, including those associated with completing the essential analyses and addressing the critical issues and disciplined information technology management practices discussed in this report, and the District's progress in achieving them.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Executive Office of the Mayor

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Mayor did not provide Congress with more details to show how the $500,000 would be used for social workers to implement family court reform. These funds were designated for FY 2002 and, as such, additional information on the plans to use these funds is no longer needed.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the planned expenditures support the purpose designated in the D.C. Appropriations Act, the Mayor should provide more details to the Congress to show how the $500,000 will be used for social workers to implement family court reform.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Executive Office of the Mayor

 

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