Child-support agency cleaning up its act, audit says -- Gazette.Net


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The Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration has made strides in fixing internal problems and increasing the collection of child support owed, according to a new report from the Office of Legislative Audits.

In 2011, an audit of the Child Support Enforcement Administration found that from 2007 to 2010, the amount of unpaid child support in the state totaled $1.72 billion and that not all available tools were being used to collect the delinquent money. In that time, the administration collected $530 million from those owing child support.

The follow-up report, released earlier this month, found that the administration had completed many of the recommendations of the Office of Legislative Audits or was making significant progress on them, said Thomas J. Barnickel III, acting legislative auditor.

“It is evident they’re taking the recommendations seriously, and they are making progress,” Barnickel said.

However, the administration still has not completed all of the recommendations in the audit, including findings that had been in previous audits, according to the new report.

The latest audit shows that the Child Support Enforcement Administration was now making fuller use of wage withholding to collect money owed, adjusting to a criticism in the audit last year.

More than $370 million of the record $544.4 million in payments collected from noncustodial parents in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 came through enhanced wage withholding, according to the agency. The total collected surpassed the amount from the previous fiscal year by $25.1 million.

The agency also worked with other state agencies to suspend drivers and professional licenses and intercepted tax refunds or lottery winnings — all recommendations in the 2011 audit report.

“This record-setting performance in Maryland is the result of changes made to the child support system over the last year,” said Department of Human Resources Secretary Ted Dallas in an emailed statement.

cford@gazette.net