Report 98025 Summary - November 1998

Automated Child Support System: Selection of Interim System Appears Reasonable


In August 1998, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2779 to transfer the Statewide Automated Child Support System and separate county systems to one of four interim systems to be linked statewide while a permanent statewide system is developed. The Legislature preselected Los Angeles County's ARS system as one of the four. The Department of Social Services (DSS), the Health and Welfare Data Center (data center), and the California District Attorneys' Association jointly developed the criteria to select the remaining three. The DSS and the data center evaluated the systems based on county business needs, mandatory software functionality, system cost, software maintenance, technical considerations, and county program impact. Based on this evaluation, the DSS and the data center selected the KIDZ (Kern County), STAR/KIDS (Riverside County), and CASES (San Francisco County) systems.

We reviewed these agencies' selection process for the three interim systems and found it was reasonable given the constraints on time and resources the federal government imposed. Although we have some reservations about the self-reported cost information used in evaluating the systems because the data center's consultant did not audit it for accuracy, other factors support the integrity of the data. Moreover, to ensure future compatibility, we recommend the agencies review Los Angeles County's ARS system according to the same criteria.