Treasury Offset Program (TOP)
PLEASE NOTE: Fiscal Service's role in child-support enforcement is limited to operation of the Treasury Offset Program whereby, certain federal payments, including federal tax refunds, can be offset to collect delinquent child support obligations.
You can seek assistance from your state child-support enforcement agency or from the Office of Child-Support Enforcement (OCSE). Part of the Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, OCSE assists State governments in operating and managing their child-support programs effectively and in conforming with federal requirements.
The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to collect past-due child support by the administrative offset of federal payments. Executive Order 13019-Supporting Families: Collecting Delinquent Child Support Obligations (September 1996), requires the Secretary of the Treasury to promptly develop and implement procedures necessary for the collection of past-due child support debts by administrative offset (the reduction or withholding of a payment).
As the central disbursing agency of the federal government, The Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service) of the Department of the Treasury is responsible for the implementation of centralized administrative offset for the collection of non-tax delinquent federal debt, past-due child support and other State debt.
The Office of Child-Support Enforcement (OCSE) within Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, assists State governments in operating and managing their programs effectively and in conforming with federal requirements.
Fiscal Service and OCSE have formed a partnership to implement the provisions of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 and Executive Order 13019. Fiscal Service has teamed with OCSE to convert federal agencies' wage withholding child support payments from checks to electronic funds transfer (EFT)/Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network.
Payments targeted for conversion are all child support orders enforced by a State child-support enforcement agency, and income withholding for all child support orders that were initially issued on or after January 1, 1994 and that are not enforced by a state child support agency.
The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 was enacted into law on April 26, 1996, it authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to collect past-due child support by the administrative offset of federal payments. Executive Order 13019 of September 1996, requires the Secretary of the Treasury to promptly develop and implement procedures necessary for the collection of past-due child support debts by administrative offset.
This report updates the 1992 report entitled Child-Support Enforcement: Timely Action Needed to Correct System Development Problems (GAO/IMTEC-92-46, Aug. 13, 1992). It makes several recommendations designed to increase the likelihood that states will develop child support systems that perform as required and to minimize the risk of costly technology decisions and wasted federal and state expenditures during the development and implementation of these systems.
This report examines states' efforts to fully privatize local offices. Specifically, it addresses (1) states' rationale for full-service privatization; (2) how the performance and cost-effectiveness of full-service privatization efforts compare with publicly managed child-support enforcement; and (3) what, if any, issues could affect future full-service privatization contracts.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on states' use of private agencies for the collection of child support payments, focusing on: (1) why states contract for these collection services; and (2) the factors affecting the financial outcomes of collection contracts for families and the federal and state governments.
This report examines the Federal Office of Child-Support Enforcement's (OCSE) management of the nation's child-support enforcement program. It evaluates the progress OCSE has made in implementing previous GAO recommendations to reorient its management of the program toward results and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
This report examines the national child-support enforcement (CSE) program at both the federal and state levels. It discusses federal program management issues and what some state CSE programs are doing to overcome barriers hampering their child-support enforcement efforts. The report makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to improve CSE (1) planning, (2) performance measurement, (3) federal accountability, (4) audits, and (5) program funding structure.