Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee: My name is Donna Bonar and I am
Director of the Division of Program Operations in the Office of Child Support
Enforcement. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today on the role of the
"National Directory of New Hires" in strengthening the child support enforcement
program. The successful implementation of the National Directory of New Hires
represents a key accomplishment in the Administration's efforts to increase child support
President Clinton and the Administration have made implementation of the child support
reforms a top priority. Under the leadership of the Office of Child Support Enforcement,
this commitment has been clearly demonstrated by the implementation of the National
Directory of New Hires on October 1, 1997, meeting the statutory deadline. I am very
pleased to report that all fifty States are providing data to the National Directory of New
Hires. Due to the tremendous teamwork among Federal and State agencies and the
private sector, the National Directory of New Hires is operational and contains new hire,
quarterly wage and unemployment insurance data.
As of May 4, 1998, the National Directory of New Hires has 23 million new hire records,
159 million quarterly wage records, and 9 million unemployment insurance claims
records. In addition, over 100 Federal agencies have transmitted over 350,000 new hire
records and roughly 5 million quarterly wage records. These reports represent 96 percent
of all federal employees.
The real benefit of the National Directory of New Hires is that our nation's children are
receiving increased child support collections. Case workers are receiving the most up-to-date, current employment information available to locate parents, establish paternity, and
enforce support orders. Today, I will focus my testimony on the development and status
of the National Directory of New Hires.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 expanded
the existing Federal Parent Locator Service by requiring the Secretary of Health and
Human Services to develop the National Directory of New Hires. The Directory is a
database of information on all newly hired employees, quarterly wage reports, and
unemployment insurance claims, in the country. The President and Congress envisioned
the National Directory of New Hires as a national resource to assist States in locating
child support obligors who are working in other States.
Before this legislation became law, twenty-five States pioneered new hire reporting and
reported wide-spread success tracking down delinquent child support obligors. Building
on these results, welfare reform directed all States to operate State Directories of New
Hires and to transmit State new hire data to the National Directory of New Hires by
October 1, 1997. The law requires that all employers report new hire data to State
agencies within 20 days. Multistate employers that transmit reports magnetically or
electronically may designate one State where they have employees for reporting all new
hire information. New hire data includes the six basic elements on the W-4 form:
employee's name, address and social security number, as well as the employer's name,
address and Federal employer identification number.
The national new hire reporting program retains a state-based system for employers to
report new hires. Once new hire information is entered into the State Directory of New
Hires, States have two days to match this information to their child support caseloads and
transmit an income withholding order to an employer. This turn-around ensures that
children get the support they deserve quickly and efficiently. Federal and State agencies
forward new hire and quarterly wage data to the National Directory of New Hires. In
addition, States submit unemployment insurance payment data to the Directory. Within
two days of receipt, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement enters this data in
the National Directory of New Hires.
I am glad to report that we are also on target to meet the implementation date for the
Federal Case Registry, October 1, 1998. Federal law requires that the Secretary of Health
and Human Services develop a national database of all child support orders. We are
using the same, collaborative model to develop the Federal Case Registry and look
forward to reporting on its success later this year.
I would like to turn my attention now to the early results of the National Directory of
New Hires and to answer the question, "So what does this mean for children?"
Historically, States have submitted individual requests to locate parents who owe child
support to the Federal Parent Locator Service. These "locate requests" have been
matched against various Federal databases. Often, these requests represent individuals
who are the "hardest-to-find" for child support purposes. States have exhausted all other
remedies and, in some cases, States have tried to locate these parents for years.
Beginning October 1, 1997, we started matching these State "locate requests" against the
National Directory of New Hires. Since then we have matched 700,000 State interstate
locate requests against individuals in the National Directory of New Hires. When States
receive matched information from the National Directory of New Hires, they are able to
quickly establish an interstate case or enforce an existing order.
It is very important to remember that this success represents only the first step in getting
more support to children. Once the Federal Case Registry is operational on October 1,
1998, new data in the National Directory of New Hires will be matched proactively to
child support case and order information in the Federal Case Registry. States will no
longer have to submit individual locate requests. Instead, States will automatically
receive current employment information on child support obligors any time that
individual takes a new job. States will also receive information on obligors' quarterly
wages and unemployment insurance claims. We believe that the simultaneous
establishment of these two databases will revolutionize States' ability to process child
support cases across State lines.
Since the program's inception, the implementation strategy evolved in several ways. An
expanded Federal Parent Locator Service Workgroup was assembled to assist with the
development of the New Hire Reporting program. This Workgroup was comprised of
representatives from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, Social Security
Administration, State Child Support Enforcement Agencies, Department of Labor, State
Employment Security Agencies, employer associations, State courts, and the Internal
Revenue Service. As a result of input by the Workgroup, our implementation strategy
was a cooperative model rather than one of dictating system requirements to the States.
As a consequence, the entire development of the system evolved to better meet the users'
The National Directory of New Hires is maintained by the Federal Office of Child
Support Enforcement and is housed at the Social Security Administration's National
Computer Center. Our collaboration with the Social Security Administration has been
instrumental to the expeditious implementation of the National Directory of New Hires.
Housing the database at SSA's National Computer Center provides that the database is
maintained in a world-class computer facility with state-of-the-art security standards. In
addition, the National Directory of New Hires uses the secure telecommunications
network established by the Social Security Administration to transmit information
between their mainframe in Baltimore, Maryland, and other State government sites.
Due to the partnership between the Office of Child Support Enforcement and the Social
Security Administration, the two agencies are able to share resources and technical
expertise, including a data center, network, and systems designers. As a result, we have
been able to assemble the National Directory of New Hires in less time and at a lower
cost than if we had reproduced the existing Social Security Administration's
infrastructure. We are very proud of our partnership with the Social Security
Administration and cannot emphasize enough the role that this collaboration played in
ensuring the success of the National Directory of New Hires.
Finally, Federal technical assistance played a critical role in implementation. The Office
of Child Support Enforcement provided technical assistance to every State and territory
through the design and implementation stages, covering issues from employee training to
systems support. Technical assistance also included information on our website, videos,
guides to implementation and data submission, brochures and information packets, and a
variety of printed materials for States to use to train their own employees and to conduct
outreach to employers and employer groups.
In conclusion, we are pleased to report that our efforts to implement the Congressional
legislation creating a National Directory of New Hires have been a success. By locating
parents owing child support and expediting the transfer of an income assignment to a new
employee, the National Directory of New Hires plays a pivotal role in promoting both
parental responsibility for their children and family self-sufficiency.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee, thank you for your
invitation to testify before you today.