Child Support Enforcement:

Federal Efforts Have Not Kept Pace With Expanding Program

T-HEHS-94-209: Published: Jul 20, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Office of Child Support Enforcement's (OCSE) responsibilities in the child support enforcement (CSE) program, focusing on: (1) whether federal audit activities help states improve their CSE programs; (2) whether changes in state and local programs will enhance child support collections; and (3) how proposed welfare reform and recent federal legislation will affect OCSE activities. GAO noted that: (1) OCSE resources have not kept pace with CSE program expansions; (2) OCSE ability to provide national leadership has been reduced by budget cuts and agency reorganization; (3) although OCSE plans to develop a strategic planning and performance measurement system to guide its activities, long-standing program data flaws need to be corrected; (4) OCSE audits are not cost-effective and do not provide an adequate assessment of program effectiveness; (5) OCSE has proposed revised audit regulations that will allow audit results to be reported in a more timely manner; (6) communication between OCSE, regional CSE personnel, and state officials has been poor; (7) states want more technical and training assistance and more input into developing enforcement regulations; (8) welfare reform could significantly increase OCSE workload and management responsibilities; and (9) OCSE could improve its management capacity by fully implementing federal performance legislation, reengineering its audit function, and developing an alternative organizational structure.

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