Federal auditors give high marks to Paternity and
Child Support Division
ST. THOMAS, V.I. – The
initiative, “Operation Support Our Children,” has contributed to the Department
of Justice, Paternity and Child Support Division’s (PCSD) receiving very high
marks in a recent federal audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Administration of Children and Family, Office of Child Support
The OCSE’s audit, conducted last year for fiscal year
2015, found that for the first time in many years, PCSD has reliable child
support data that make the Virgin Islands entitled to receive federal incentive
awards that PCSD had been denied in the past. OCSE’s audit was conducted to
determine the reliability of the data and the performance of PCSD. With a
string of repeated failures for many years before this last audit, the Virgin
Islands had obtained the dubious distinction of being the first U.S.
jurisdiction to be denied federal incentive payments because of disastrous
audit outcomes caused by the inability of PCSD’s system and staff to produce
accurate data for OCSE’s auditors.
Attorney General Claude Earl Walker, who heads the
PCSD, received a formal letter of the audit findings from OCSE’s director,
AG Walker, in commenting on the results of the audit,
said he was confident of a positive outcome as the Division has been working to
address a number of outstanding issues.
“I knew that we had a good chance of passing because
in 2015, Paternity had made rapid and considerable improvements to its data
system, collections and distribution of child support with our ‘Operation
Support Our Children’ initiative, and so, failure was no longer an option,” AG
Walker said. “In 2015, we inherited an agency that could not produce accurate
data for our federal monitors for many years, and at one point, for four
straight years in a row, Paternity kept failing these audits, but no one knew why. It was rather embarrassing to be the only
U.S. jurisdiction to fail in every category of the audit, and the consequences
of failing included a denial of incentive payments and penalties for the
Territory’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.”
However, last year’s audit found that the Division
outperformed in every area after four years of failures.
“OCSE could not determine Paternity’s performance in
critical areas such as how much money is collected and then distributed to the
children, but this audit found that in every category, Paternity’s data is now
reliable and performance has significantly improved. In fact, the Virgin Islands received marks between
92% and 100% in all areas covered by the annual audit,” AG Walker said. “These findings mean that the Virgin Islands
is now entitled to its fair share of incentive funds that are distributed to
the states, territories and tribal lands.”
Program Administrator at the PCSD, Kathryn
Jensen-deLugo, gave an insight on how the audit was conducted.
“We were audited on eight performance measures. Of those eight performance measures, we had
one score at 92%, two at 95%, one at 96%, two at 98%, one at 99%, and one at
100%,” Jensen-deLugo said. “The eight
performance measures include, but are not limited to, cases open at the end of
the fiscal year, total amount of current support due, and total amount of
support collected and distributed.”
HHS, Administration of Children and Family Regional Administrator, Joyce A.
Thomas, will be visiting the Territory on June 14 to confer with AG Walker.
A copy of OCSE’s audit report is available to the
public upon request under the Freedom of Information Act. To facilitate identification, please refer to
Audit Report No. VI-15-DRA.