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October 14, 2003

Governor, Cabinet Approve New Child Support Computer System Designed to Help 901,000 Children

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet Tuesday approved development of an advanced computer system that is expected to help improve collecting child support for thousands of Florida children. About 901,000 children, almost one child in four in Florida, are touched by a state-administered child-support case.

By 2008, the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) expects to rank in the top five child-support programs nationally in percentage of current support collected, due in part to the $32.1-million Child Support Automated Management System (CAMS), said Jim Zingale, DOR executive director. By 2009, DOR will rank as the nation's top child-support program thanks to this new computer system, Zingale predicted.

The new CAMS computer system will use state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning software. The system's flexible architecture will make it easier and less costly to maintain and will allow DOR to process cases more quickly, improving services to clients, Zingale said. Within three years after implementation, the new system will help DOR collect an additional $196 million in child support. CAMS will help boost collections by $2.9 billion in 10 years, Zingale said.

The federal government is paying two-thirds of the cost of the system. CAMS will generate about $328 million in savings during the first 10 years of operation, through additional child-support collections that offset welfare and Medicaid costs, less costly computer maintenance, and increased federal incentive support payments. The system will have paid for itself in savings after the first full year of operation in 2005-2006, according to DOR projections.

In late September, the Governor and Cabinet authorized DOR to take advantage of an offer by software maker SAP to finalize acquisition of the system and obtain a $710,000 discount on the $5.2 million cost of the software. The savings was made possible by rapid federal approval of the contract. In action Tuesday, the Cabinet approved a three-year contract for $27.6 million with DeLoitte

Consulting to reengineer DOR's child support enforcement business processes to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the new computer system. CAMS will use SAP and Oracle software solutions.

The CAMS contract is the latest in a series of enhancements to state and federal law that are boosting the effectiveness of child support enforcement in Florida and many other states. In the 2003 session, Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature set aside $23.8 million for CAMS despite extremely challenging budget conditions.

In recent years, Governor Bush, the Florida Legislature and Congress have enacted laws intended to help state agencies enforce child support orders. If parents refuse to support their children as required by law, DOR can:

  • Intercept income-tax refunds, some insurance settlements, and lottery winnings.
  • Garnish payments from paychecks.
  • Freeze and seize money from financial accounts.
  • Administratively establish child support orders in certain cases, if parents agree.
  • Ask for criminal prosecutions of those who owe large amounts of child support and who can afford to pay.

DOR's Child Support Enforcement Program announced its ninth consecutive annual collection record in July. DOR collected $964.5 million in state fiscal year 2002-2003, up 10.8 percent over the previous record of $870 million set in 2001-2002. Collections have risen 248 percent since DOR took over child support enforcement in July 1994, even though caseloads have dropped significantly.

DOR's performance in collecting current child support has risen as well, from about 48 percent of current support collected in the month it was due four years ago to 56.6 percent last fiscal year, according to federal performance measures. (This measure does not include DOR's collections on past-due support.) In 2001, the most recent year for which final federal rankings are available, Florida ranked 31st out of 54 states and territories in terms of current support collected in the month due.

As of September 2003, DOR provided services to about 669,000 child-support cases statewide, involving about 901,000 of Florida's 3.5 million children. (One case may involve more than one child.)