Child Support:

State Progress in Developing Automated Enforcement Systems

HRD-89-10FS: Published: Feb 10, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the automation status of states' child support enforcement programs and their views on and reasons for progress or lack of progress.

GAO found that: (1) as of May 1988, all of the 54 state systems reviewed used some automation for their programs; (2) 2 of the state systems were fully operational, 14 were mostly operational, 15 were in the development or installation phases, 21 were in preplanning or planning phases, and 2 states had no plans to establish comprehensive systems; and (3) 37 states were seeking or receiving enhanced funding. GAO also found that: (1) 39 states reported progressing through at least one development phase between 1985 and 1988, 13 did not progress, and 2 systems that had already begun automation regressed to the preplanning phase; (2) the number of states in the fully and mostly operational phases increased from 4 to 16 during that period, and the number in the development and installation phases increased from 11 to 15; (3) 23 states had not advanced beyond the planning phase as of May 1988; (4) although 49 states reported that they had made at least moderate progress since 1985, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) reported that only 29 made moderate progress; and (5) OCSE and state officials agreed that the reasons for state progress included technical staff availability, state commitment and leadership, cooperation between state agencies, and changes in OCSE policies. In addition, GAO found that: (1) 21 states sought OCSE approval to transfer other states' systems, rather than develop new ones, and 4 others were considering transfers; and (2) state views varied widely concerning the effects of OCSE policy changes.

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