SQL Server 2000 Helps Locate Deadbeat Parents

How one state teamed up with a proven value-added reseller and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to find a better way to track down deadbeat dads.

June 28, 2004

3 Min Read
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The state-government market continues to be a proving ground for VAR-launched projects on the cutting edge, changing the very essence of how government works.

Recently completed and ongoing projects throughout the country are saving state governments money and time, and increasing efficiency and information-sharing in ways that couldn't have been imagined even three years ago. And the ultimate customers--the state's citizen taxpayers--are seeing the difference.

The success of such projects is fueling the anticipated growth in state-government IT spending that--in light of how tight budgets are these days--are still projected to grow at least incrementally: Spending for state-government IT is expected to reach $32 billion this year, and will grow to nearly $34 billion by 2006, according to Fed Sources, a McLean, Va.-based market research firm. Expect more if there's a turnaround in the budget woes, experts say.

Following is an excerpt from 5 Outstanding State Solutions , in which we detail how one state teamed up with a proven value-added reseller and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to find a better way to track down deadbeat dads.

The Challenge: Getting deadbeat dads (and the occasional MIA mom) to pay upThe Project: The Decision Support System from Alexandria, Va.-based integrator/VAR Buchanan and Edwards

What Happened: By 2001, the State of Vermont Office of Child Support knew it needed to step into the 21st century to go after estranged dads who shirk off their child-support responsibilities. (And, in some situations, moms who owe dads who have parental custody.) The organization, which administers approximately 27,000 cases and collects more than $54 million in child support a year, has approximately 125 employees spread throughout its central administrative office and five regional offices. So information access statewide is crucial. In the end, child-support decision-makers went with a plan to launch the innovative Decision Support System integrated by Buchanan and Edwards, tapping on business-intelligence products from San Jose, Calif.-based vendor Business Objects.

The result was a solution package that allows even technophobes to access child-support case information quickly, and provides more effective ways to analyze the data. From the desktop, state child-support staff can track more than 20 years of data, loaded into a Microsoft SQL Server 2000, and determine which cases need the most immediate attention. The system offers better data mining that helps caseworkers determine whether a parent is at risk to stop paying support and the reasons why. "Our primary goal has always been to help children, and we also hope to create a model for other state child-support agencies to follow," says Jeff Cohen, director of the Vermont Office of Child Support. "We all need an end-user-friendly system to give case managers, management and staff the ability to look at data in a variety of ways, while easily accessing all the information that is needed." There is also a compliance component--the project has increased the state's ability to report statistics to the federal government, as well as detect and correct case errors. These are crucial requirements to remain in good standing for federal funds.

The biggest challenge? Cleaning up data that gets transmitted from the operational legacy system into the new solution's data warehouse. Some of the data was spotty, as a lack of oversight in the old system resulted in some information gaps in the new solution's system. Ultimately, staff using the new system was able to identify problems originating from the source system and close the gaps, and is completing the integration work as projected, by the end of the year.

"It's going to allow individual case managers to serve the state's children better," says Tony Parchment, principal for Buchanan and Edwards, "and at the same time, provide state executives with access to high-level data and metrics to ensure that what they're reporting to the federal government is accurate."The Upshot: The solution is expected to reap no less than an additional $500,000 in annual child-support payments being collected, as it now segues from management deployment to deployment on the part of its caseworkers in the trenches.

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