Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor
Financial Audit Division

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Report Summary
Department of Human Services
Child Support Enforcement Division

Financial Related Audit For the Period
October 1, 1997, through March 31, 1999

 

Public Release Date: October 1, 1999 No. 99-54

Background and Scope

The Department of Human Services manages Minnesota's child support enforcement program. The department maintains the state's centralized child support information system (PRISM) and is responsible for the statewide collection and distribution of child support payments. The child support enforcement program was established in 1975 under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. The program's purpose is to minimize public assistance payments by locating non-custodial parents, establishing paternity, establishing and enforcing child support, and collecting child support to ensure that children are financially supported by both parents.

Our audit scope was limited to specific child support enforcement activities under direct supervision, or control of the Department of Human Services. We audited the period from October 1, 1997, when the department implemented its new child support information system, through March 31, 1999. During that period, the department collected and distributed more than $624 million of child support payments. Specifically, this audit reviewed:

  • controls over centralized child support collection,
  • calculation and notification of child support cost of living adjustments,
  • distribution of child support payments,
  • security over and access to the state's centralized child support computer systems, and
  • payment of state funded child support enforcement bonus incentives.

Our audit was limited to state level controls over compliance. We did not review or evaluate any county administrated child support activities.

Conclusions

Our audit found that the Department of Human Services generally designed and implemented controls to ensure that child support payments were adequately safeguarded and promptly deposited. The department accurately calculated and notified individuals of cost of living adjustments to child support obligations. In addition, the department established adequate controls to ensure compliance with applicable legal provisions regulating child support enforcement incentives paid to counties and medical providers.

We found, however, that the department did not always distribute incoming child support payments in accordance with applicable legal provisions. Also, the department did not properly restrict PRISM users with personal child support cases from accessing their own case information. Finally, the department did not adequately secure certain system programming files and limit access to certain batch programs.

In its written response, the Department of Human Services agreed with the audit findings and is taking corrective action to resolve the issues.

More Information

Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155