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January 5, 2000

Audit SDU

SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today signed legislation that addresses some of the problems plaguing the disbursement of child support income withholding payments from 102 circuit clerks in the state to a federally-mandated centralized unit under contract with the Department of Public Aid.

Ryan also announced that the Department of Public Aid has contracted with Bank One, NA to perform an internal audit of the new State Disbursement Unit, a study that will focus on the management and operation of the SDU system, including hardware, software, procedures, customer service and fiscal management.

"The legislation I'm signing today will not solve the problems encountered by families who have experienced difficulties, nor is it a magic wand that will make the new income withholding disbursement system 100 percent efficient," Ryan said. "But this bill will help the SDU and others who have a major role in the child support system get on track and earn back the confidence of parents and children."

The clean-up legislation, contained in House Bill 2773, is the product of negotiations between the General Assembly, the Department of Public Aid, the SDU and circuit court clerks throughout the state. In general, the bill specifies and clarifies procedures and duties of the various components of the child support disbursement system and requires new actions that will help synchronize operations.

The bill includes provisions requiring:

* The Department of Public Aid to conduct at least four regional seminars for circuit clerks to better educate and coordinate all parties in the new system.

* IDPA to conduct four regional seminars for employers to better educate them about the SDU system and their responsibilities.

* That after June 30, every employer who has 250 or more employees must use electronic funds transfer to pay all accounts withheld under the state's Income Withholding Support Act.

* That all other employers handling child support through income withholding for 10 or more separate cases must use electronic funds transfer by Jan. 1, 2001.

* IDPA, within the next 15 days, to notify in writing all circuit clerks, parents who owe child support and their employers about changes in the system enacted by the clean-up bill.

* Circuit clerks, within the next 15 days, to notify parents who do not use income withholding to pay child support to make their payments to their local circuit clerk if their court order requires support payments to be made to the circuit clerk.

* The SDU to return child support payments to the sender if the payment should not have been sent to the SDU in the first place, along with instructions detailing where the payment should be sent.

Bank One's review of the SDU draws on the firm's experience, and they have been hired to help consolidate child support disbursement systems in Ohio and Michigan. A final audit report is due back to Public Aid officials by the end of January and will include conclusions about operational problems at the SDU and recommendations to help remedy problems with the system.

Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 1999, the SDU processed and mailed out 774,991 child support checks. Public Aid officials have seen an improvement in payment disbursement to families and have been working closely with circuit clerks, employers and parents to iron out problems as quickly as possible.

"We're still a long way from where I want the SDU to be in terms of reliability and service, but we're making great strides every week," Ryan said. "This legislation is another step in that process and I want to applaud the members of the General Assembly for working with us on this bill."

House Bill 2773 is effective immediately and was sponsored in the House by state reps. Eileen Lyons, R-LaGrange; Cal Skinner, R-Crystal Lake; Joseph M. Lyons, D-Chicago; Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling; Mary K. O'Brien, D-Coal City; and in the Senate by state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford.


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