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Electronic, Multi-Way Communication for Child Support Vital for Payroll

BY: Alice P. Jacobsohn, Esq. | 08/31/20

APA recently learned the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) does not consider enhanced electronic communication between states and employers a high priority. In July, APA asked HHS to reconsider its position and wrote to Congress asking legislators to pressure HHS to modernize.

In October 2018, APA wrote to the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), a division of HHS, with a request to “enhance the capabilities of OCSE’s electronic capabilities to allow multi-way communication between employers, states, and OCSE.” At issue was an incomplete process to manage lump-sum payments because OCSE’s comparison of data could not be offered to employers. States also could not respond to employers via the Child Support Portal. At the time, OCSE informed APA that the agency would give serious consideration to the request, and APA members have viewed and offered recommendations on potential modules for the enhancements.

OCSE’s initial enhancement enables the portal to notify employers whether their employees owe arrears and provides contact information to the states responsible for collecting past-due support. “However, payroll professionals and their employers would still need to manually contact states for all of the other procedural details regarding remittal of the lump sum, including, but not limited to, the amount owed, and where and how to remit the payments,” APA said.

The House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Committee on Finance have HHS oversight. APA asked committee leaders to pressure HHS to make the enhancements. “In fact, the House and Senate over the past few years have passed legislation increasing the value of modern technology within federal agencies’ budgets,” APA said.

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Alice P. Jacobsohn, Esq., is Director of Government Relations for the APA.