“Trust Equity” Leads to $8 Million Catch by MAXIMUS

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October 27, 2014

MAXIMUS strives to earn the role of trusted advisor for the programs we serve. In the child support community, MAXIMUS has unofficially compiled and reported performance data for all state child support programs since 1999. The MAXIMUS data compilations and projections have given states early indications of how the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) will rank each state’s performance when it publishes its official results. These results are important because states effectively compete for their share of a national incentive pool based on their performance — and this is a significant source of funding for these state programs.

This year, our projections also served a data-integrity role — one that led OCSE to introduce $8 million in additional funds to the national incentive pool that was distributed this year.

This outcome — 15 years in the making — demonstrates the power that government agencies and private companies can achieve when they work together on a common goal. States aren’t required to provide MAXIMUS with this data. MAXIMUS isn’t required or contracted to produce it. Yet all parties find value in sharing information that allows each of them to plan for the next year with greater insight and certainty.

The child support performance incentive plan came about as a federal/state partnership prompted by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998 (CSPIA) formalized the plan with formulas used to determine the annual incentive pool and each state’s share of it. The national incentive pool increases each year at the rate of inflation, as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsCPI-U index. OCSE calculates this increase using a formula spelled out in federal regulations.

As mandated by CSPIA, OSCE measures the annual effectiveness of each state’s child support program using the following metrics:

  1. How many dollars the program collects in a year.
  2. How effective the program is in establishing paternity and support orders for its caseload.
  3. How effective the program is in collecting current support and arrearages for its caseload.
  4. How cost-effective its program was in executing all of these objectives.

To ensure accurate and fair allocation of incentives, the federal government requires states to submit complete and reliable data to compute their shares of the national incentive pool.

Recognizing the complexity of these calculations, as well as the need for states to understand and anticipate how they performed against their peers, MAXIMUS applied our expertise in child support policy, administration, and operations, to begin compiling state performance data and distributing compilations of the results to states in 1999. This tradition has since continued, with MAXIMUS often distributing our projections several months before OCSE officially releases the same data.

In addition to the benefits of receiving states’ performance data earlier than published, the MAXIMUS data compilations also serve as a data-integrity check. When calculating our projection for the national incentive pool based on federal fiscal year 2013 data, MAXIMUS noted that OCSE’s estimate of $530 million for the annual incentive pool was $8 million less than our calculations. Unable to reconcile the two figures, MAXIMUS contacted some of our state partners to verify our calculation. We also worked with one state’s IV-D Director to open a dialogue with OCSE to resolve the $8 million difference. After the IV-D Director shared our findings, OCSE updated its estimate, adding an additional $8 million to the national incentive pool for the federal fiscal year 2013 incentives.

This is just one example of how private firms like MAXIMUS can use our expertise and resources to partner with our state and federal counterparts to improve the efficiency and accuracy of human service programs. We thank state IV-D directors — clients and non-clients — for allowing MAXIMUS to earn your trust and establish credibility through the state performance data compilation program for the past 15 years. Together, we make a difference.

Learn more about MAXIMUS Child Support services here.