Interstate Child Support:

Case Data Limitations, Enforcement Problems, Views on Improvements Needed

HRD-89-25: Published: Jan 27, 1989. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO presented information on interstate child support enforcement problems.

GAO found that: (1) states' interstate case and collection data were of questionable reliability and provided limited information about interstate child support; (2) states did not separately report detailed interstate case-load and collection data; (3) it could not use the Office of Child Support Enforcement's (OCSE) data to determine the relative size of states' interstate versus total case loads, since OCSE collected different types of information on interstate and total cases; (4) OCSE data showed that total interstate collections for fiscal year 1987 were about $290 million, or about 7 percent of total child support collections; (5) 7 states accounted for 53 percent of the estimated 1.9 million interstate cases; (6) states estimated that case processing took longer and was less successful for interstate cases sent to other states than for in-state cases; and (7) states were testing new case processing methods in interstate demonstration projects. GAO also found that: (1) major barriers to effective interstate child support enforcement included insufficient staff, lack of automation, and differences in states' policies, procedures, and laws; and (2) officials suggested improvements to interstate enforcement, such as standardizing policies and procedures and establishing performance standards.

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