SC Child Support Fail: Present, Future Costs Skyrocket

REPORT REVEALS MASSIVE NEW COSTS … AND TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS DOWN THE DRAIN Two-and-a-half years ago we brought our readers the latest on South Carolina’s “epic fail” with regard to creating a federally compliant child support enforcement database.  Since we published our report, things have only gotten worse ……


Two-and-a-half years ago we brought our readers the latest on South Carolina’s “epic fail” with regard to creating a federally compliant child support enforcement database.  Since we published our report, things have only gotten worse … and costlier.

And the fleecing of Palmetto State taxpayers isn’t going to stop anytime soon …

First, a (very) brief history: In 1988 the federal government mandated the creation of a centralized computer system to monitor child support payments – and gave states ten years to set up their networks.  Not only did South Carolina fail to get its system up and running on time, but by 2006 it was the only state in the nation still lacking such a database – an ongoing failure which has resulted in the accumulation of tens of millions of dollars in fines.

Now, as we noted back in 2013 “the child support enforcement database is an unfunded mandate of the worst sort,” and “South Carolina’s judicial branch ought to be in charge of establishing its own system for handling child support payments – free from federal interference.”

But we’re not dealing with a principled stand against Washington overreach: We’re dealing with an agency that has blown mad stacks of taxpayer cash on a botched effort to build this system – and even more money on fines stemming from its failure.

The numbers are staggering – and depressing.

According to the latest report (.pdf here) from the scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS), a whopping $145 million has been spent so far to create this system.

Only problem?  There’s still no system.

That’s right … twenty-seven years after the federal mandate was issued, twenty-three years after the state first began blowing money on this project and seventeen years after the deadline for its implementation, there’s still no system.

Oh, and in addition to the $145 million spent with absolutely nothing to show for it, the state has been assessed a whopping $135 million in federal penalties dating back to 1998 for its failure to produce this system.

Fortunately, $98 million of that tab has been paid by the first two vendors on the project – Unisys and Hewlett-Packard – but add up the remaining fines and program costs and we’re still looking at a total expense to taxpayers of nearly $200 million.

Again … with no system in place.

Unreal … and this is the agency that perpetually whines about not having enough money?

Ready for more?  According to SCDSS, the cost over the next six fiscal years to finally bring this system operational stands at roughly $200 million.

That’s right … another $200 million.

We wonder: Will they actually build it this time?

As we’ve pointed out on numerous prior occasions, SCDSS has been an unmitigated disaster since governor Nikki Haley took office in 2011 – most notably as it relates to instances in which vulnerable children were repeatedly placed in abusive homes.  But the agency’s failure is much bigger and broader than that.

And costlier …

As we noted earlier this week, deadbeat parents in South Carolina have racked up at least $1.5 billion in arrearages over the past five years – a number industry experts have suggested is likely much higher.

Again, we don’t think the federal government has the right to dictate to states how they collect child support – let alone issue fines for non-compliance.  But South Carolina never made that case.  Instead, it clumsily spent decades and hundreds of millions of tax dollars trying – and failing – to meet the federal standard.

All while falling further behind on its existing collection efforts.

In fact a recent MSNBC report noted that South Carolina ranks “below the national average in every single measure of how effectively it is collecting child support funds.”

Sheesh.  How long will state lawmakers tolerate this ongoing incompetence?  How much more of your money will be wasted?  And more to the point, who will be held accountable for this fleecing?


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Tazmaniac November 19, 2015 at 9:00 am

You could probably make more at McDonalds as a french fry shift manager than DSS so why would you expect quality results? Like previously said, DSS is where people with worthless liberal arts degrees go to dig in for a lifetime career of uselessness. Low pay, low quality people, low expectations, how can it go wrong?

idcydm November 19, 2015 at 9:50 am

Just think, if the liberal arts degree is free…as so many liberals want it to be, now would be a good time to become a tradesman, so you don’t have to go to McDonalds.

Tazmaniac November 19, 2015 at 9:56 am

Easiest way to make decent money quickly. I tell young people that all the time. At school, their heads are filled with dreams of student loans and a Major in Social Justice Technology degrees.

nitrat November 19, 2015 at 10:08 am

South Carolina – the state that killed a Merit System based state civil
service system and replaced it with cronyism – so what can we expect?

nitrat November 19, 2015 at 10:07 am

DSS became a Cabinet agency in the first group of agencies, in the early 90s.. So the question is: why have the governors in direct charge tolerated the situation…and, how do they get a complete pass from the press on this issue?

Every governor during these years has responsibility for NOT DOING THEIR JOB: the deified Carroll Campbell (R) – 1987-1995; David Beasley (R) – 1995-1999: Jim Hodges (D) -1999-2003; Mark Sanford (R) – 2003-2011; Nikki Haley (R) – 2011-2018.
Have none of these fiscally conservative (R) governors paid any attention at all to this or any other agencies in their cabinet as anything except a jobs program for their political hack friends/donors?

As many of its other internal computer systems that DSS has bought from other states and implemented over the decades, I don’t know why they just can’t slap in another state’s program…unless the problems are related to interfacing with the Family Court systems and Family Court doesn’t want to play ball.
There has to be more to this than just DSS and bad vendors, particularly when it clearly has to be a system for DSS and the Family Court.

Torch November 19, 2015 at 11:15 am

Bingo. Jean Toal and Her idea of Family Court .

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SickOfTheSikh November 19, 2015 at 10:56 am

Third World quality from a Third World Governor, who wants to stop immigrants from getting at the sourse of her own personal wealth. Nikki, you’re Ugly.

Torch November 19, 2015 at 11:13 am

You need to ask Toal why it failed . Do some research.

Retired Data Center Ops November 19, 2015 at 11:54 am

Look at the idiot DSS hired. The ex-CIO for the state data center. What a loser! Now this idiot is collecting money from the state as a retired worker and a paid consultant. Remember, what you can do does not matter. Who you know in state government is all that matters.

erneba November 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Which guy is this. Have known a few in that organization, just curious.

LouieBouy November 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Idea: Have the kids act out in school, get laid-out by a resource officer, then collect the child support using a online go-fund-me campaign from all the liberal hand-wringers. Works like a charm…every time!

Elfego November 20, 2015 at 10:35 am

Government is a farce.They just want to add more folks to their voting roles to keep them in office. I read where The Social Security Administration just spent $338 Million dollars to collect $120 Million dollars in fraud.. Government is the biggest rip off in America and their answer is to hire more government employees like TSA agents who walk out and strike after it is proven they miss 93% of all violations. Wake up America!

Lone Ranger November 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Whups!…did FITS (AGAIN) leave out the annoying facts because they think you’re dumb as a stump?

Well let’s edify them before they’re strung up on a limb and the Tea Train that hits them is Trump

Only all-day suckers really believe it’s the governMENT’s job to parent daddy-babies cradle to grave

So…when daddy-baby-daddies wanna be crack pipe caddies it’s NOT governMENT’s job to save

Ship the scumballs out to Sheriff Arpaio and he’ll find them all a nice tent and a big ole heavy pick

And then don’t let them out until the children are daddy-paid through college—that’ll do the trick !!!


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