Safeguarding Child Support Information, 32145-32157 [2010-13021]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules 32145 achieve the finest presort level for the mailing, except that a flat-size copalletized mailing prepared under 8.11 or 8.14 using the bundle reallocation option may not always result in all bundles being placed on the finest pallet level possible.* * * Origin mailers participating in a copalletized mailing of Standard Mail letters in trays must prepare a separate postage statement for the portion entered at the origin site and another postage statement for the portion directed to the consolidator. statement for the portion entered at the origin site and another postage statement for the portion directed to the consolidator. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES * * 707 Periodicals * * * * * 27.5 Documentation * * * * 8.8 Basic Uses These types of mail may be palletized: * * * * * [Revise 8.8 by re-sequencing items f through i as the new g through j and adding a new item f as follows:] f. Copalletized multiple letter-size mailings, prepared in trays, subject to 8.0. * * * * * [Revise title of 8.16 as follows:] 8.16 Copalletized Letter-Size and Flat-size Pieces—Periodicals or Standard Mail 8.16.1 Basic Standards [Revise 8.16.1 as follows:] Copalletized letter- and flat-size mailings must meet the applicable standards in 8.0. In addition, if copalletized under 10.0, 12.0, or 13.0, the applicable provisions of that preparation option must also be met. Any combination of automation mailings and nonautomation mailings is subject to the restrictions in 8.14. Trays and bundles in a copalletized mailing qualify for the appropriate presort level price, regardless of the pallet level on which they are placed. Mailers participating in copalletized mailings must: a. Transmit postage statements and mailing documentation to the USPS using an approved electronic method. b. In accordance with 708.6.5 and 708.6.6, use Intelligent Mail tray labels on trays and sacks and Intelligent Mail container placards on pallets or similar containers. c. If consolidating multiple mailings on pallets, update the electronic data for each of the original mailings. This updated data must be reflected in the electronic data transmitted to the USPS by the consolidator. d. Meet postage payment requirements as specified by Business Mailer Support. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * [Revise 8.16.2 by adding a new item d as follows:] d. Postage for copalletized mailings of flatsize Periodicals must be paid at the consolidator’s site. * * * Administration for Children and Families * * 45 CFR Parts 301, 302, 303, and 307 * * * * * * The following additional standards apply: [Revise 27.5 by adding a new item c and d as follows:] c. Unless excepted by Business Mailer Support (BMS), mailers combining Periodicals publications under 27.1a must transmit postage statements and mailing documentation to the USPS using a BMSapproved electronic method. d. Mailers combining Periodicals publications under 27.1c must transmit postage statements and mailing documentation to the USPS using a BMSapproved electronic method. [Renumber current 27.6 through 27.8 as new 27.7 through 27.9 and add a new item 27.6 as follows:] 27.6 Additional Standards Mailers combining Periodicals publications under 27.1a or 27.1c must: a. Use Intelligent Mail tray labels on trays and sacks and Intelligent Mail container placards, under 708.6.5 and 6.6, on pallets or similar containers. b. When using a consolidator, prepare a separate postage statement for the portion of the mailing accepted at the origin site and another statement for that portion directed to a consolidator. c. When using a consolidator under 27.1c, pay postage at the consolidator’s site. d. If consolidating multiple mailings on pallets, update the electronic data for each of the original mailings. This updated data must be reflected in the electronic data transmitted to the USPS. f. Meet postage payment requirements as specified by Business Mailer Support. * * * * We will publish an appropriate amendment to 39 CFR Part 111 to reflect these changes if our proposal is adopted. Stanley F. Mires, Chief Counsel, Legislative. [FR Doc. 2010–13574 Filed 6–4–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7710–12–P 8.16.3 Standard Mail Additional standards are as follows: * * * 27.0 Combining Multiple Editions or Publications * 8.16.2 Periodicals Additional standards are as follows: * * * [Revise 8.16.3 by adding a new item f as follows:] f. Origin mailers participating in a copalletized mailing of Standard Mail letters in trays must prepare a separate postage VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Safeguarding Child Support Information AGENCY: Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking. SUMMARY: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) created and expanded State and Federal Child Support Enforcement databases under title IV–D of the Social Security Act and significantly enhanced access to information for title IV–D child support purposes. States are moving toward more integrated service delivery to better serve the families and further the mission of the child support enforcement program, while protecting confidential data. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes requirements for: State Parent Locator Service responses to authorized location requests; and State Child Support Enforcement program safeguards for confidential information and authorized disclosures of this information. This proposed rule would revise certain aspects of the final rule State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding Child Support Information Final Rule published on September 26, 2008 and effective December 30, 2010. This NPRM will prohibit disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information to private collection agencies and expand disclosure to child welfare programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). DATES: Consideration will be given to comments received on or before August 6, 2010. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments via regular postal mail to: Office of Child Support Enforcement, Administration for Children and Families, 370 L’Enfant Promenade, SW., 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20447, Attention: Division of Policy; Mail Stop: ACF/ OCSE/DP. E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 32146 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paige Hausburg, OCSE, Division of Policy, (202) 401–5635, e-mail paige.hausburg@acf.hhs.gov. Deaf and hearing-impaired individuals may call the Federal Dual Party Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. eastern time. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS I. Statutory Authority This NPRM is published under the authority granted to the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (Secretary) by sections 1102, 453, 454, 454A, and 463 of the Social Security Act (the Act). Section 1102 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 1302, authorizes the Secretary to publish regulations that may be necessary for the efficient administration of the Child Support Enforcement program authorized under title IV–D of the Act (IV–D program). The provisions of this NPRM pertaining to the Federal Parent Locator Service (Federal PLS) implement sections 453 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 653. Section 453 requires the Secretary to establish and conduct a Federal Parent Locator Service (Federal PLS) to obtain and transmit specified information only to authorized persons for purposes of establishing parentage, or establishing, modifying, or enforcing child support obligations. Section 453 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 653 also authorizes the Secretary to disclose information in the Federal PLS to the State Child Support Enforcement program (authorized under title IV–D of the Social Security Act), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF or IV–A program authorized under title IV–A of the Social Security Act), Child Welfare Services program (IV–B program authorized under title IV–B of the Act), and Foster Care and Adoption Assistance program (IV–E program authorized under title IV–E of the Act) to assist States in carrying out their responsibilities under those programs. Section 463 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 663, also permits States to use information in the Federal PLS for the purpose of enforcing any Federal or State law with respect to a parental kidnapping or making or enforcing a child custody or visitation determination. In addition, the provisions of this NPRM pertaining to the State Parent Locator Service (State PLS) implement sections 454(8) and (17), 42 U.S.C. 654(8) and (17), which require each State IV–D program to establish a State Parent Locator Service (State PLS) to locate parents by exchanging data with the Federal PLS VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 and utilizing other information sources and records. Several sections of the Act require safeguarding measures for information contained in State and Federal databases, including the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) and the Federal Case Registry (FCR). Section 454(8) requires States receiving funding under title IV–D to have a State plan providing that the State IV–D program will: (1) Establish a service to locate parents utilizing all sources of information and available records and the Federal PLS; and (2) disclose the information described in sections 453 and 463 only to the ‘‘authorized persons’’ specified in sections 453 and 463, subject to the privacy safeguards in section 454(26) of the Act. In addition, sections 453(m) and 463(c) restrict disclosure of confidential information maintained by the Federal PLS only to an ‘‘authorized person’’ for an authorized purpose and require the Secretary to establish and implement safeguards designed to restrict access to confidential information in the Federal PLS to authorized persons for authorized purposes. Section 453(l), 42 U.S.C. 653(l), also specifies that information in the FPLS shall not be used or disclosed except as expressly provided in section 453. Section 454(26), 42 U.S.C. 654(26), requires the State IV–D agency to have in effect safeguards, applicable to all confidential information handled by the State agency, that are designed to protect the privacy rights of the parties. Additionally, sections 454(16) and 454A, 42 U.S.C. 654(16) and 654a, require States to maintain computerized child support enforcement systems to carry out their responsibilities under title IV–D and to have in effect safeguards on the access to and use of data in the State’s automated system. II. Background This NPRM will prohibit disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information to private collection agencies and expand the disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information to child welfare programs authorized under titles IV–B and IV–E and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). On September 26, 2008, a final rule, following notice and comment period, entitled ‘‘State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding Child Support Information,’’ was published in the Federal Register [73 FR 56422] to address requirements for State Parent Locator Service responses to authorized location requests, State IV–D program safeguarding of confidential PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 information, authorized disclosures of this information, and restrictions on the use of confidential data and information for child support purposes with exceptions for certain disclosures permitted by statute. The effective date given for the final rule was March 23, 2009. In accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2009, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff entitled ‘‘Regulatory Review’’ [74 FR 4435], on March 3, 2009, the Department published a notice in the Federal Register [74 FR 9171] seeking public comment on a contemplated delay of 60 days in the effective date of the rule entitled ‘‘State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding Child Support Information.’’ In response to those comments, the Department issued a subsequent notice published in the Federal Register [74 FR 11879] on March 20, 2009, which delayed the effective date of the September 26, 2008 rule by 60 days until May 22, 2009, in order to permit Departmental officials the opportunity for further review of the issues of law and policy raised by this rule. However, subsequent to publication of the March 20, 2009 notice, the Department determined that additional time would be needed for officials to complete their review of the rule and to fully assess the substantive comments received in response to the March 3, 2009 notice. As a result, on April 15, 2009 a notice was published in the Federal Register [74 FR 17445] indicating that the Department was contemplating a further delay in the effective date of the ‘‘State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding Child Support Information’’ final rule to December 30, 2010, and requesting comments on the delay of the effective date. In response to comments from the April 15, 2009 notice, the Department issued a subsequent notice, published in the Federal Register [74 FR 23798] on May 21, 2009 delaying the effective date of the September 26, 2008 rule to December 30, 2010. Although the March 3, 2009 and the April 15, 2009 notices invited comments on whether a delay in the rule’s effective date was needed ‘‘to allow Departmental officials the opportunity for further review and consideration,’’ both notices also generated focused substantive comments recommending changes to several particular provisions of the final rule that warrant further consideration. In addition to supporting a delay in the effective date of the rule, the comments raised specific policy concerns regarding two areas of the September 26, 2008 final rule: (1) The rules for E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information about individuals maintained by State IV–D programs to a private, for-profit child support collection agency as an ‘‘agent of a child’’; and (2) the child welfare data exchange provisions of the rules in light of legislation enacted in October 2008 after publication of the final rule. With respect to disclosure of information to private collection agencies, concerns have been raised by commenters, Departmental officials, media coverage, litigation and program stakeholders that the government’s disclosure of confidential information to private child support collection agencies may not serve the child’s best interests. Specific comments have been raised about the risks involved in disclosing confidential data to private collection agencies not acting as a State’s agent under a contractual relationship nor required to comply with ethics and confidentiality rules such as those governing State agencies and private attorneys, and whose business practices are largely unregulated and not subject to program oversight. Additionally, commenters on the March 3 and April 15, 2009 notices stated that a delay in the effective date would give the Administration an opportunity to conduct a review of the child welfare data exchange provisions to ensure that the provisions of the rule conform to The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Pub. L. 110–351), signed into law on October 7, 2008, eleven days after the Safeguarding Final Rule was published. One commenter also indicated that the final rule appeared to prohibit the State IV–D agency from disclosing confidential information, such as child support payment records, to other State agencies, including the State food assistance program (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)). This NPRM proposes limited changes to the final regulation published on September 26, 2008 to address concerns identified by Department officials as well as those raised by commenters. Only selected portions of the ‘‘State Parent Locator; Safeguarding Child Support Information’’ final rule are addressed in the NPRM. The final rule published on September 26, 2008 in 73 FR 56442 will go into effect on December 30, 2010. It is our intent that the selected revised sections, as proposed in this notice, also will go into effect on December 30, 2010 via a separate final rule. We are specifically seeking comments on those issues VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 raised by commenters as mentioned above and the proposed revisions discussed further below. The preamble includes a discussion about the rationale behind the changes, followed by an explanation of the provisions of the proposed regulation. The major issues include a prohibition against disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information to private child support collection agencies and expanded release of information for titles IV–B and IV–E purposes. In order to address concerns regarding disclosure of information to private child support collection agencies, we propose to define the term ‘‘agent of a child’’ as it is used in section 453(c)(3). Under a broad interpretation of the term ‘‘agent of a child’’ included in policy guidance previously issued by OCSE, a private collection agency is treated as an agent of a child in some States and thus may obtain confidential information about parents and families from the Federal PLS and State PLS. However, this term is not defined in the statute or regulation. The proposed definition of ‘‘agent of a child’’ included in this NPRM will prohibit the disclosure of information to private child support collection agencies concerning which the State has no contractual relationship or oversight responsibility, and also will revise sections of the rule that are inconsistent with the proposed definition of ‘‘agent of a child.’’ The proposed definition will supersede the five policy statements issued by OCSE in 2002 and 2003 with respect to disclosure of information contained in the State PLS and the Federal PLS to private child support collection agencies. The prior policy allowed States to disclose PLS information to private collection agencies, and although never promulgated as a rule, it has been in place for several years. We are particularly interested in comments on superseding the previously-issued policy. A more detailed explanation of these policy documents, and the underlying policy considerations, are discussed in section III of the preamble. We also propose revisions to the rule that would expand permissible disclosure of information in the Federal PLS and the State PLS to State IV–B and IV–E agencies to assist States in carrying out their responsibilities under those programs, pursuant to section 453(j)(3), as amended by The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2009 (Pub. L. 110– 351). PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 32147 III. Discussion of the Issues In late 2002, OCSE issued a series of four policy statements dated December 4, 2002 addressing Federal law and regulation on disclosure of information and redirection of child support payments to private collection agencies. OCSE also issued a fifth policy statement addressing the same issues on May 23, 2003. The policy statements are: • AT–02–04, Providing FPLS locate services to an ‘‘agent of the child’’ for child support purposes; 1 • DCL–02–35, Federal Guidance on Private Collection Agencies; 2 • IM–02–09, Effective Practices for Working with Child Support Private Collection Agencies; 3 and • PIQ–02–02, Requests by Custodial Parents for a Change of Address for the Disbursement of the Custodial Parent’s Share of Child Support Collections; 4 • PIQ–03–05, Guidance on Private Collection Agencies—Agent of a Child and Third Party Addresses for Correspondence.5 The policy guidance issued in 2002 and 2003 stated that Federal law and regulation did not prohibit State IV–D programs from providing confidential and personally identifiable information and redirecting child support collections to private collection agencies upon request of a custodial parentpayee. The policy stated that, if permitted under applicable State law, a private collection agency could act as the ‘‘agent of a child.’’ The term was not defined in the Act or in regulation and it was left to States to determine whether or not to release such information to private collection agencies. The policy guidance was issued by OCSE following the issuance of a General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) report regarding access to information in Federal databases and use of wage withholding by private child support collection agencies (GAO 02–349, March 2002). Public comments received in response to the March 3 and April 15, 2009 notices, as well as recent litigation alleging unlawful actions by private child support collection agencies adverse to the interests of families 1 Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ cse/pol/AT/2002/at-02-04.htm. 2 Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ cse/pol/DCL/2002/dcl-02-35.htm. 3 Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ cse/pol/IM/2002/im-02-09.htm. 4 Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ cse/pol/PIQ/2002/piq-02-02.htm. 5 Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ cse/pol/PIQ/2003/piq-03-05.htm. E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 32148 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS served by the IV–D program,6 have given us sufficient concern to reassess the September 26, 2008 rule and the 2002 and 2003 policy guidance permitting disclosure of confidential information in the Federal and State databases to private collection agencies. Accordingly, this NPRM proposes revisions to relevant parts of the September 26, 2008 rule that would supersede the 2002 and 2003 policy statements with respect to disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information in the Federal PLS and the State PLS to private child support collection agencies due to: (1) The increase in public security and privacy concerns with personally identifiable data maintained by the government and the dramatic increase in incidences of identity theft; (2) the questionable practices and fiscal instability of several large private child support collection agencies; and (3) the Department’s interest in promoting policies that serve the best interest of children and families. These underlying policy considerations, discussed further below, have informed our proposed definition of ‘‘agent of the child’’ in proposed § 301.1, discussed in section IV. Increase in Security and Privacy Concerns In June 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Chief Information Officer, issued the HHS–OCIO Policy for Information Systems Security and Privacy (http://www.hhs.gov/ocio/ policy/hhs-ocio_policy_ for_information_systems_security_ and_privacy__.html). The policy provides direction to the information technology security programs of HHS Operating Divisions and Staff Divisions for the security and privacy of HHS data in accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA). The policy states that, ‘‘The HHS Information Security and Privacy Program (henceforth, ‘‘the Program’’) has evolved and matured over the last several years as new Federal requirements have been published and as advances in technology have been made. Citizens’ concerns over the unauthorized disclosure of protected health information and personally identifiable information have placed information technology security and 6 United States Postal Service v. Child Support Services of Atlanta, Inc., No. 7:09–CV–111 (M.D. Ga. Feb. 19, 2010): Commonwealth of Virginia, et al. v. Supportkids, Inc., No. 08000728–00 (Va. Cir. Ct. Richmond City Nov. 17, 2009); and Commonwealth of Virginia, et al. v. Supportkids Services, Inc., No. 3:10–CV–73, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30726 (E.D. Va. Mar. 29, 2010). VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 privacy issues at the forefront of the national dialogue, positively impacting the way in which public, private, and government organizations provide services and protect information.’’ In recent years, Congress also has held a number of hearings highlighting rising concerns with identity theft and other confidentiality issues.7 In light of this new HHS policy and its associated requirements, as well as the concerns expressed in Congressional hearings, we believe that more rigorous controls over access by private entities to confidential and personally identifiable data, including Social Security numbers, are warranted. Questionable Practices of Child Support Private Collection Industry In addition to privacy concerns, OCSE takes its obligation as steward of confidential and personally identifiable information that has been entrusted by parents and Congress very seriously. Several private child support collection agencies have had a history of consumer complaints made by custodial parents, non-custodial parents, grandparents, employers, and courts, as well as the recent litigation brought by the U.S. Postal Service and Commonwealth of Virginia cited above. The complaints allege that some private collection agencies use questionable tactics, including deceptive advertising, perpetual service contracts that prohibit cancellation, falsely representing the business as a government office, using official-looking documents to pressure employers to redirect support withheld from employees’ paychecks, demanding payments from grandparents, demanding payments from noncustodial parents that are not owed, and other allegedly deceptive and abusive tactics.8 OCSE is aware of recent litigation filed by the United States Postal Service alleging that a private collection agency 7 For example, see the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Hearing on ‘‘Identity Theft: Victims Bill of Rights’’ at: http:// oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=4264&catid=48:hearings& Itemid=29. http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm? FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ ID=db89f4c3-b2b8-42fd-8dae-934a1b317c35 http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option= com_content&view=article&id=4286:qprivacy-theuse-of-commericial-information-resellers-byfederal-agenciesq&catid=48:hearings&Itemid=29 http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp? formmode=detail&hearing=570&comm=4. 8 Some of these practices are described in U.S. General Accountability Office, Child Support Enforcement: Clear Guidance Would Help Ensure Proper Access to Information and Use of Wage Withholding by Private Firms. http://www.gao.gov/ new.items/d02349.pdf PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 misrepresented itself as a State agency to defraud parents in several States. Two cases were filed by the State Attorney General on behalf of Virginia. Such litigation reflects a growing national concern with the business practices sometimes used by private child support collection agencies. It is the Department’s position that such questionable practices should not be facilitated or subsidized by providing access to confidential information entrusted to the Federal Government and States. A recent bankruptcy filing by one of the largest private collection agencies and subsequent transfer of parents’ cases to other companies with which the parents had no contact has added to our concern. This proposed rule would not prohibit or ban these private collection activities. Such companies can still acquire data directly from the custodial parents who sign up for their services or through private data search companies. Promoting Policies That Serve the Best Interest of Children and Families We are concerned that policies issued by the Department should generally promote the best interest of children and families. The child support program is no longer primarily a welfare reimbursement, cost recovery device for the Federal and State governments; it is now a family-first program intended to ensure families’ self-sufficiency and strengthen parents’ commitment to supporting their children.9 Child support policies should help increase, not decrease, family income and stability, and strengthen, not undermine, parent-child relationships. As indicated previously, consumer complaints allege that the practices of some private child support collection agencies have had the effect of reducing child support income received by families and increasing conflict between parents, and thus do not serve the best interests of children and families. Expansion of the Release of Information for IV–B/E Program Purposes The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (the Fostering Connections Act) was signed into law on October 7, 2008, eleven days after the publication of the Safeguarding Final Rule published on September 26, 2008. Section 105 of the Fostering Connections Act amended section 453(j)(3) of the Social Security Act to expand the authority for 9 See the National Child Support Enforcement Strategic Plan FY 2005–2009, at http:// www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pubs/2004/ Strategic_Plan_FY2005-2009.pdf. E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules information comparisons and disclosures of information in all registries for title IV program purposes to include child welfare and foster care programs funded under part B and part E of the Social Security Act. The new law authorizes disclosure of information in the Federal PLS and the State PLS to conduct data matches and share data with child welfare agencies ‘‘to the extent and with the frequency that the Secretary determines to be effective in assisting States to carry out their responsibilities under this part [D], part B or E, and programs funded under part A.’’ Section 103 of the Fostering Connections Act amends section 471(a) of the Social Security Act to provide additional authority to expand the scope of information disclosed to State IV–B and IV–E programs by adding paragraph (29) requiring the State to have a child welfare plan that: WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS (29) provides that, within 30 days after the removal of a child from the custody of the parent or parents of the child, the State shall exercise due diligence to identify and provide notice to all adult grandparents and other adult relatives of the child (including any other adult relatives suggested by the parents), subject to exceptions due to family or domestic violence, that— (A) Specifies that the child has been or is being removed from the custody of the parent or parents of the child; (B) explains the options the relative has under Federal, State, and local law to participate in the care and placement of the child, including any options that may be lost by failing to respond to the notice; (C) describes the requirements under paragraph (10) of this subsection to become a foster family home and the additional services and supports that are available for children placed in such a home; and (D) if the State has elected the option to make kinship guardianship assistance payments under paragraph (28) of this subsection, describes how the relative guardian of the child may subsequently enter into an agreement with the State under section 473(d) to receive the payments. In addition, section 206 of the Fostering Connections Act requires the child welfare agency to make reasonable efforts to place siblings removed from their home in the same foster care, kinship guardianship, or adoptive placement, unless joint placement would be contrary to the safety or wellbeing of any of the siblings, and to provide for frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction between the siblings if the children are not placed in the same home. Information in the Federal PLS and State PLS regarding the location of adult relatives and siblings of children involved in child welfare and foster care cases would assist IV–B and IV–E State agencies to meet the VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 requirements of sections 103 and 206 of the Fostering Connections Act. Comments received in response to the March 3 and April 15, 2009 notices indicate that the amendment made to section 453(j)(3) of the Act made by the Fostering Connections Act permits disclosure of a broader range of information to IV–B and IV–E agencies for a broader range of authorized purposes that was not fully addressed in the September 26, 2008 regulation. Therefore, this proposed regulation expands disclosure of information to IV–B and IV–E agencies to assist States in carrying out their responsibilities under those programs, including locating relatives of children removed from parental custody in order to identify potential placements for the child and assist the State agency in permanency planning. IV. Provisions in the Proposed Regulations Part 301 Sec. 301.1 Definitions (‘‘Agent of the Child’’) As discussed above, section 453 of the Act, enacted in 1975 by Public Law 93– 647, prohibits the Federal PLS from releasing confidential and personally identifiable information about individuals maintained by the IV–D program, other than to an ‘‘authorized person’’ for an authorized purpose. Section 453(c) defines ‘‘authorized person’’ as: (1) any agent or attorney of any State having in effect a plan approved under this part, who has the duty or authority under such plans to seek to recover any amounts owed as child and spousal support or to seek to enforce orders providing child custody or visitation rights (including, when authorized under the State plan, any official of a political subdivision); (2) the court which has authority to issue an order against a noncustodial parent for the support and maintenance of a child, or to issue an order against a resident parent for child custody or visitation rights, or any agent of such court; (3) the resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a child (other than a child receiving assistance under a State program funded under part A) (as determined by regulations prescribed by the Secretary) without regard to the existence of a court order against a noncustodial parent who has a duty to support and maintain any such child; and (4) a State agency that is administering a program operated under a State plan under subpart 1 of part B, or a State plan approved under subpart 2 of part B or under part E. Similarly, 45 CFR 302.35(c)(3), which requires the State PLS to accept requests for confidential and personally identifiable information only from PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 32149 authorized persons, incorporates the definition of ‘‘authorized persons’’ specified in section 453(c). As stated in section 453(c)(3), an authorized person includes ‘‘the resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a child (other than a child receiving assistance under a program funded under part A).’’ A ‘‘resident parent’’ lives with the child and provides the child’s day-to-day care. An individual who has been appointed by court order as a child’s ‘‘legal guardian’’ is legally responsible for the child’s care and has a legal obligation to act in the child’s best interest. An ‘‘attorney’’ has an ethical obligation to represent the interests of the child, and is subject to State licensure and professional responsibility rules.10 The terms resident parent, legal guardian and attorney are commonly understood and therefore are not further defined herein. We also note that each of these ‘‘authorized persons’’ has a relationship with the child that imposes an intrinsic responsibility to assure protection of the child’s welfare and interests. For example, a private attorney involved in a child support case has undertaken the responsibility to provide legal representation to the resident parent or child related to the establishment, modification or enforcement of a child support obligation. An attorney-client relationship has thus been created which imposes an ethical and fiduciary duty upon the attorney to represent the child’s best interests, and the attorney is subject to a Code of Professional Responsibility. Since the term ‘‘agent of a child,’’ on the other hand, is susceptible to broad interpretation and, as has been demonstrated, may previously have included ‘‘agents’’ with a pecuniary interest of their own that may be inconsistent with the child’s best interests, we believe that this term warrants definition. While the term ‘‘agent of a child’’ is not defined in statute or rule, section 454(11)(B) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 654(11)(B), also enacted in 1975 by Public Law 93–647, (formerly, section 454(12) of the Act), is instructive. Section 454(11)(B) requires States to distribute child support payments as specified in sections 456 and 457, 42 U.S.C. 656 and 657. Section 454(11)(B) provides that a State plan must: Provide that any payment required to be made under section 456 or 457 to a family shall be made to the resident parent, legal 10 See, e.g., In the Matter of Struthers, 179 Ariz. 216 (Arizona Sup. Ct., 1994), where the Arizona Supreme Court disbarred a private attorney who used a variety of tactics to collect child support that violated rules of professional responsibility. E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 32150 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules guardian, or caretaker relative having custody of or responsibility for the child or children. (Emphasis added.) A ‘‘caretaker relative’’ is a longstanding term used in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and its predecessor program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), to refer to those relatives responsible for the day-to-day care of children and who are eligible to apply for cash assistance for needy families, regardless of the existence of a legal custody order or legal guardianship status.11 We have carefully considered the intent of Congress in designating an ‘‘agent of a child,’’ and believe the close connection in language between sections 453(c)(3) and 454(11)(B) and the long-established understanding of ‘‘caretaker relative’’ for title IV–A purposes is informative. Accordingly, we propose to amend § 301.1 by adding the following definition: WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Agent of a Child means a caretaker relative having custody of or responsibility for the child. We believe that limiting the definition of ‘‘agent of the child’’ to ‘‘caretaker relative’’ is consistent with the other terms in section 453(c) which identify individuals with responsibility to protect and further the child’s best interest. As indicated, the proposed definition has a statutory basis that is derived from and consistent with section 454(11)(B). The proposed definition of the term ‘‘agent of a child’’ recognizes the practical reality that children are sometimes left in the care of a grandmother or other relative and, even though the relative may not have been appointed by a court as the child’s legal guardian or have legal custody of the child, the relative can be expected to protect and act in the child’s best interest. The definition also accords with the responsibility of the government to safeguard confidential and personally identifiable information and prevent misuse of the data. This section is open to public comment. We are specifically seeking comments on this proposed definition of ‘‘agent of a child’’ which will supersede the 2002 and 2003 policy options which allowed States to determine whether or not to permit disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information to 11 See, e.g., 42 U.S.C. 602(a)(1)(A); Rodriguez v. Vowell, 472 F.2d 622 (5th Cir.), cert. denied 412 U.S. 944, 93 Sup. Ct. 2777, 37 L.Ed.2d 404 (1973) (‘‘The plain language of the Social Security Act, its legislative history, and the relevant decisional precedent make clear that the needs of the caretaker relative, as well as those of the dependent child, are to be considered in deciding if a family is eligible for an AFDC grant.’’) VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 private child support collection agencies. We also are seeking comments on whether to add a definition of ‘‘attorney of the child’’ to the final rule. Sec. 302.35 State Parent Locator Service The final regulation at § 302.35(a) requires each State to maintain a State PLS to provide locate information to authorized persons for authorized purposes. This paragraph is not open for notice and comment and will not be addressed in this NPRM. The effective date of this paragraph is December 30, 2010. The final regulation at § 302.35(b) requires the State IV–D program to maintain a central State PLS. This paragraph is not open for notice and comment and will not be addressed in this NPRM. The effective date of this paragraph is December 30, 2010. In the final rule published on September 26, 2008, the amendments to § 302.35(c) were intended to establish safeguards for accessing locate information in the State PLS and the Federal PLS, specifically with respect to requests from a resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a non-IV– D child. We propose to open only paragraph (c)(3) for comment. Paragraphs (c)(1), (c)(2) and (c)(4) will remain intact. The effective date of those parts of these paragraphs is December 30, 2010. We propose to eliminate § 302.35(c)(3)(iii) which includes a provision that an agent of a child not receiving assistance under title IV–A may provide evidence of a contract that meets the requirements of State law that will allow information to be provided to that agent. We are deleting this language because of the concerns identified by Departmental officials regarding disclosure of information to private child support collection agencies as discussed earlier in the preamble. We also would renumber § 302.35(c)(3)(iv) as § 302.35(c)(3)(iii). The Fostering Connections Act has raised questions about the extent to which data maintained in the Federal PLS and State PLS is available to assist State child welfare agencies in carrying out their program responsibilities to locate potential placements for a child removed from parental custody and for permanency planning purposes. With the enactment of the Fostering Connections Act, there are now two separate sections of the Act that provide authority for the IV–D program to disclose information to State IV–B and IV–E agencies. Section 453(c) of the Social Security Act was amended in 1997 by The Adoption and Safe PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Families Act (Pub. L. 105–89) to include State IV–B and IV–E programs as authorized persons that may receive specified information under section 453(a) about the location, income and assets of a person ‘‘who has or may have parental rights with respect to a child.’’ Subsequently, the Fostering Connections Act amended section 453(j)(3) of the Social Security Act to authorize the Secretary to provide information to assist States in carrying out their responsibilities under part IV– B and IV–E. We are particularly seeking comments on proposed language with respect to two overarching issues. The first issue is whether the language in the Fostering Connections Act broadens the types of Federal PLS information otherwise available to State child welfare agencies under section 453 concerning parents and non-parent relatives of children involved in child welfare cases. The second issue is whether State IV–D programs should have the flexibility to provide a broader range of State PLS information to State child welfare agencies, for example, under an interagency agreement. We are thus specifically soliciting comments on proposed section 302.35(d) regarding the scope of information that may be disclosed from the Federal PLS and State PLS concerning parents and non-parent relatives of children involved in child welfare cases pursuant to section 453(j)(3), as amended by the Fostering Connections Act. Data maintained in the Federal and State PLS may include information about the individual’s location, income and employment benefits such as health insurance, assets, debts, child support payment history, and the family violence indicator (FVI), as well as other confidential information found in the automated system. We are specifically seeking comments as to: (1) Whether the information disclosed about parents of a child involved in a IV–B or IV–E case should be broader than information disclosed about non-parent relatives; (2) whether each State IV–D agency should have the option to provide a broader range of data elements to the State child welfare agency than available through the Federal PLS; and (3) the manner of data exchange between the State PLS and State child welfare agency, for example through the use of an interagency agreement or a memorandum of understanding. To that end, we have proposed language in 302.35(d)(2) to allow for a broader range of information that can be shared. We are opening section 302.35(d) for comment. Section 302.35(d)(1) permits access by State IV–B and IV–E agencies E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules to the State PLS locate function and the data elements listed in section 453(a) with respect to information about custodial parents, non-custodial parents, and putative fathers. We are specifically soliciting comments on this section of the regulation with respect to (1) authorized purposes for disclosure and (2) the scope of information available to IV–B and IV–E agencies about parents of children involved in IV–B and IV–E cases. We propose to redesignate section § 302.35(d)(2) of the September 26, 2008 rule as § 302.35(d)(3) and add a new § 302.35(d)(2) to identify the information that can be shared with IV– B and IV–E agencies to locate children and their relatives involved in IV–B and IV–E cases. This paragraph, which addresses information available from the State PLS, would permit disclosure for these reasons: Information about children and their relatives involved in a IV–B or IV–E case in order to assist State child welfare agencies in carrying out their program responsibilities to locate relatives for potential placement of a child removed from parental custody, to place siblings in groups, and to otherwise assist State agencies in their permanency planning responsibilities under the authority of section 453(j) of the Act, for example, by providing information regarding the Family Violence Indicator (FVI) or information about a child’s paternity status. We are specifically soliciting comments on this section of the regulation on the appropriate balance to strike between assisting IV–B and IV–E programs in placing children, and safeguarding the privacy of relatives whose information may be included in the Federal or State PLS. This section does not apply to IV–D information maintained outside of the State PLS, such as payment records. The proposed language is clear that the State PLS information may also be disclosed to State IV–A agencies for the purpose of assisting States to carry out their responsibilities to administer title IV–A programs. These programs include the TANF program, which funds cash assistance, workforce and other services, as well as Tribal programs operating under title IV–A authority. The final regulation at § 302.35(e) addresses locate information subject to disclosure. This portion of the regulation is not open for notice and comment and is not addressed in this NPRM. The effective date of this paragraph is December 30, 2010. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 Part 303 Sec. 303.3 Location of Noncustodial Parents in a IV–D Case This portion of the regulation is not open for notice and comment and is not addressed in this NPRM. The effective date of this paragraph is December 30, 2010. Sec. 303.20 Minimum Organizational and Staffing Requirements We propose to amend paragraph (b)(7) of this section of the regulation to ensure consistency throughout this chapter based on proposed amendments to §§ 302.35 and 303.70. This section is open for public comment. Sec. 303.21 Safeguarding and Disclosure of Confidential Information Prior to the passage of PRWORA, the safeguarding regulation at 45 CFR § 303.21 allowed the disclosure of information connected to the administration of any Federal or federally assisted program which provides assistance, in cash or in kind, or services, directly to individuals on the basis of need. These needs-based programs included the Food Stamps program (now SNAP), as well as the AFDC program authorized under title IV–A (now TANF). The safeguarding rule was eliminated by interim final rule, published in the Federal Register on February 9, 1999 (64 FR 6237) in response to the President’s Memorandum of March 4, 1995 to heads of Departments and Agencies which announced a government-wide Regulatory Reinvention Initiative to reduce or eliminate obsolete regulations and mandated burdens on States, other governmental agencies, or the private sector. As mentioned earlier in the preamble, during the comment solicitation period, the Department received a comment that the rule appeared to prohibit the State IV–D agency from disclosing such information as the child support payment records to SNAP. This was not the Department’s intent. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Public Law 110–246, enacted on June 18, 2008, amended section 453(j)(10) of the Act to permit disclosure, for purposes of administering a supplemental nutrition assistance program under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, of information on the individuals and their employers maintained in the National Directory of New Hires. To comply with the changes made to section 453(j)(10) of the Act, and, in accordance with section 454A(f)(3) of the Act, this NPRM PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 32151 proposes to reinstate permission for disclosure of information, including the child support payment records, to SNAP. Accordingly, we propose to amend paragraph § 303.21(d)(1) to include disclosures of information to the State agency administering SNAP. The remainder of § 303.21 is not open for notice and comment and is not addressed in this NPRM. This section is open to public comment. Sec. 303.69 Requests by Agents or Attorneys of the United States for Information From the Federal Parent Locator Service (PLS) We propose to make a technical amendment to this section of the regulation to ensure consistency throughout this chapter based on proposed amendments to § 303.70. Current § 303.69(c) references § 303.70(c); the proposed technical amendment changes the reference to § 303.70(d). We propose to amend only § 303.69(c). The remainder of § 303.69 is not open for notice and comment and is not addressed in this NPRM. This section is open to public comment. Sec. 303.70 Procedures for Submissions to the State Parent Locator Service (State PLS) or the Federal Parent Locator Service (Federal PLS). We propose to amend paragraph (a) of § 303.70 to include a provision consistent with the proposed change to § 302.35 to permit the release of information for IV–B and IV–E purposes, including implementation of the Fostering Connections Act. This section is open to public comment. Section 303.70 paragraphs (b)–(d) are not open for comment. These paragraphs remain unchanged. The effective date of these paragraphs is December 30, 2010. We propose to amend paragraph (e)(1)(i) of § 303.70 to include a provision to permit disclosure of information about children and relatives involved in a IV–B or IV–E case in order to assist State child welfare agencies in carrying out their program responsibilities to locate relatives for potential placement of a child removed from parental custody, to place siblings in groups, and to otherwise assist State agencies in their permanency planning responsibilities under the authority of section 453 of the Act consistent with the proposed changes to §§ 303.35 and 303.70(a). This section is open to public comment. E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 32152 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules Because section 303.70(e)(2) of the rule refers to ‘‘agent of a child’’ and also refers to § 302.35, in which changes were proposed, this section is open for comment. The remainder of this section is not open for comment. Part 307 Sec. 307.13 Security and Confidentiality for Computerized Support Enforcement Systems in Operation After October 1, 1997 Part 307 of the rule addresses computerized system data integrity and security. Computerized child support enforcement systems are required to have safeguards protecting the integrity, accuracy, completeness of, access to, and use of information in the computerized support enforcement system. Section § 307.13 is not opened in its entirety for comment. We are proposing a change to § 307.13(a)(3), (4)(iii) and (iv). These sections are open to public comment. The remainder of § 307.13 is not opened for comment. We propose to amend § 307.13(a)(3) to include a provision consistent with the proposed change to § 303.21 permitting the release of information to State agencies administering SNAP. As mentioned earlier in the preamble, this proposed regulation addresses release of information to IV–B and IV– E agencies to locate parents, children and relatives of children and other disclosures needed to carry out their program responsibilities. For these reasons we propose at § 307.13(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) that NDNH and FCR information may be disclosed without independent verification to title IV–B and IV–E agencies to locate parents and putative fathers for the purpose of establishing parentage or establishing parental rights with respect to a child and that disclosure be allowed without independent verification to title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B and IV–E agencies for the purpose of assisting States to carry out their responsibilities to administer title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B and IV–E programs. For clarity, the following appendices lay out the type of information that can be shared. The charts reflect the information as written in the NPRM. Appendix A addresses information available to locate individuals through the State PLS. Appendix B addresses information available to locate an individual sought in a child custody/ visitation or parental kidnapping case. Appendix C provides the authorities for State IV–D agencies to release information to title IV, XIX, XXI, SNAP and other specified programs. APPENDIX A—LOCATING INDIVIDUALS THROUGH THE STATE PLS § 302.35 Authorized person/program Authorized purpose of the request Persons about whom information may be asked Agent/attorney of a State who has the duty or authority to collect child and spousal support under the IV–D plan; Section 453(c)(1). Establish paternity; establish, set the amount, modify, or enforce child support obligations and/or to facilitate the location of any individual who is under an obligation to pay child support, against whom such an obligation is sought, or to whom such an obligation is owed. Locate a parent or child involved in a non-IV–D child support case to disburse an income withholding collection; Section 453(a)(2). To facilitate the location of any individual who is under an obligation to pay child support, against whom such an obligation is sought, or to whom such an obligation is owed. Locate a parent or child involved in a non-IV–D child support case. Noncustodial Parent; Putative Father; Custodial Parent; Child; Section 453(a)(2)(A). Federal Parent Loca- Six Elements: PerSee footnote. tor Service; In-state son’s Name, Persources in accordson’s SSN, Perance with State law. son’s address, Employer’s name, Employer’s address, Employer Identification Number; Section 453(a)(2)(A)(iii). Wages, income, and benefits of employment, including health care coverage; Section 453(a)(2)(B). Type, status, location, and amount of assets or debts owed by or to the individual; Section 453(a)(2)(C). Noncustodial Parent; Custodial Parent; Putative Father; Child. Federal Parent Loca- Six Elements as tor Service; In-state above, plus: sources in accordWages, income, ance with State law. and benefits of employment, including health care coverage; Section 453(a)(2)(B). Type, status, location, and amount of assets or debts owed by or to the individual; Section 453(a)(2)(C). WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Court that has the authority to issue an order against an NCP for the support and maintenance of child, or to serve as the initiating court in an action to seek a child support order; Section 453(c)(2). VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sources searched Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM Authorized information returned 07JNP1 Limitations1 No Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information provided for non-IV–D cases unless independently verified. No Multistate Financial Institution Data Match (MSFIDM) and no State Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM) information provided for non-IV–D cases. No required subsequent attempts to locate unless there is a new request. 32153 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules APPENDIX A—LOCATING INDIVIDUALS THROUGH THE STATE PLS § 302.35—Continued Authorized person/program Authorized purpose of the request Resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a child not receiving IV–A benefits (a non-IV–D request); Section 453(c)(3) 2. To facilitate the location of any individual who is under an obligation to pay child support, against whom such an obligation is sought, or to whom such an obligation is owed, or who has or may have parental rights with respect to the child. Locate a parent or child involved in a non-IV–D child support case. State agency that is To facilitate the locaadministering a tion of any indiChild and Family vidual who has or Services program may have parental (IV–B) or a Foster rights with respect Care and Adoption to the child, Section IV–E program; Sec453(a)(2)(iv); and tions 453(c)(4), to assist states in 453(j)(3), and 454(8). carrying out their responsibilities under title IV–B and IV–E programs; Sections 453(j)(3) and 454(8). State agency that is To assist states in administering a carrying out their Child and Family responsibilities Services program under title IV–B (IV–B) or a Foster and IV–E proCare and Adoption grams; Sections IV–E program; Sec453(j)(3) and tions 453(j)(3) and 454(8). 454(8). Persons about whom information may be asked Sources searched Authorized information returned Noncustodial Parent; Putative Father. Federal Parent Loca- Six Elements as tor Service; In-state above, plus: sources in accordWages, income, ance with State law. and benefits of employment, including health care coverage; Section 453(a)(2)(B). Type, status, location, and amount of assets or debts owed by or to the individual; Section 453(a)(2)(C). Noncustodial Parent; Putative Father; Custodial Parent Child; Sections 453(a)(2)(A), 453(j)(3), and 454(8). Federal Parent Loca- Six Elements as tor Service; In-state above, plus: sources in accordWages, income, ance with State law. and benefits of employment, including health care coverage. Type, status, location, and amount of assets or debts owed by or to the individual; Section 453(a)(2)(C). Relatives of a child involved in a IV–B or IV–E case. Federal Parent Loca- Six Elements as tor Service; In-state above. sources in accordance with State law. Limitations1 Child not receiving IV–A benefits. No IRS Information. No MSFIDM and no State FIDM information provided for non-IV–D cases. In a non-IV–D request, attestation and evidence is required as specified in § 302.35(c)(3)(i)– (iii). No required subsequent attempts to locate unless there is a new request. No IRS information unless independently verified. No MSFIDM information and no State FIDM information provided. No IRS information unless independently verified. No MSFIDM information and no State FIDM information provided. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS 1 No information shall be disclosed if the disclosure of such information would contravene the national policy or security interests of the United States or the confidentiality of census data. No information shall be disclosed if the State has reasonable evidence of domestic violence or child abuse and the disclosure of such information could be harmful to the CP or child. See Section 453(b)(2) for release process to court or agent of the court. 2 A Tribal IV–D program may request access to the Federal PLS under this authority. See PIQ–07–02/TPIQ–07–02, Q&R 7. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 32154 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules APPENDIX B—LOCATING AN INDIVIDUAL SOUGHT IN A CHILD CUSTODY/VISITATION OR PARENTAL KIDNAPPING CASE Type of request Authorized person/program Authorized purpose of the request About whom information may be requested LOCATING AN INDIVIDUAL SOUGHT IN A CHILD CUSTODY OR VISITATION CASE. Any agent or attorney of any State who has the authority/ duty to enforce a child custody or visitation determination; § 463(d)(2)(A). A court, or agent of the court, having jurisdiction to make or enforce a child custody or visitation determination; § 463(d)(2)(B). Agent or attorney of the U.S. or a State who has authority/duty to investigate, enforce, or prosecute the unlawful taking or restraint of a child; § 463(d)(2)(C). Determining the whereabouts of a parent or child to make or enforce a custody or visitation determination; § 463(a)(2). A parent or child; § 463(a). Federal Parent Locator Service; In-state sources in accordance with State law. Only the three following elements: Person’s address, Employer’s name, Employer’s address; § 463(c). See footnote. No IRS information provided. No MSFIDM or State FIDM information provided. No subsequent attempts to locate unless there is a new request. Determining the whereabouts of a parent or child to enforce any State or Federal law with respect to the unlawful taking or restraint of a child; § 463(a)(1). A parent or child; § 463(a). Federal Parent Locator Service; In-state sources in accordance with State law. Only the three following elements: Person’s address, Employer’s name, Employer’s address; § 463(c). See footnote. No IRS information provided. No MSFIDM or State FIDM information provided. No subsequent attempts to locate unless there is a new request. LOCATING AN INDIVIDUAL SOUGHT IN A PARENTAL KIDNAPPING CASE. Sources searched Authorized information returned Limitations1 1 No information shall be disclosed if the disclosure of such information would contravene the national policy or security interests of the United States or the confidentiality of census data. No information shall be disclosed if the State has reasonable evidence of domestic violence or child abuse and the disclosure of such information could be harmful to the CP or child. See Section 453(b)(2) for release process to court or agent of the court. APPENDIX C—AUTHORITY FOR STATE IV–D AGENCIES TO RELEASE INFORMATION TO NON-IV–D FEDERAL, STATE, AND TRIBAL PROGRAMS Authorized purpose of request Authorized person/program Authorized information returned Limitations Sections 453 and 454A(f)(3) of the Act, Section 1102 of the Act; and 45 CFR 307.13. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Authority To perform State or Tribal agency responsibilities of designated programs. State or Tribal agencies administering title IV, XIX, and XXI, and SNAP programs. Confidential information found in automated system. No Internal Revenue Service information unless independently verified. No MSFIDM or State FIDM information provided. No NDNH and FCR information for title XIX and XXI unless independently verified. For IV–B/IV–E, for purpose of section 453(a)(2) of the Act can have NDNH and FCR information without independent verification. —Any other purpose requires independent verification. For IV–A NDNH/FRC information for purposes of section 453(j)(3) of the Act without independent verification. —Need verification for other purposes. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 32155 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules APPENDIX C—AUTHORITY FOR STATE IV–D AGENCIES TO RELEASE INFORMATION TO NON-IV–D FEDERAL, STATE, AND TRIBAL PROGRAMS—Continued Authorized purpose of request Authority Sections 453A(h)(2) and 1137 of the Act—State Directory of New Hires. Income and eligibility verification purposes of designated programs. Paperwork Reduction Act Section 302.35(c) contains an information collection requirement. As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)), the Administration for Children and Families has submitted a copy of this section to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for its review in tandem with the final rule published on September 26, 2008. There are no changes to this section. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis The Secretary certifies that, under 5 U.S.C. 605(b), as enacted by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96– 354), this rule will not result in a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The primary impact is on State governments. State governments are not considered small entities under the Act. Regulatory Impact Analysis Executive Order 12866 requires that regulations be reviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the priorities and principles set forth in the Executive Order. The Department has determined that this rule is consistent with these priorities and principles. The proposed changes would not significantly alter States’ child support enforcement operations. This regulation responds to State requests for guidance on data privacy issues and therefore should not raise negative impact concerns. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires that a covered agency prepare a budgetary impact statement before promulgating a rule that includes any Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. If a covered agency must prepare a budgetary impact statement, section 205 further requires VerDate Mar<15>2010 Authorized person/program 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 Authorized information returned State agencies administering title IV–A, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, food stamps, or other State programs under a plan approved under title I, X, XIV, or XVI of the Act. SDNH information: Individual’s name, address and SSN; employer’s name, address, and Federal employer identification number. Limitations that it select the most cost-effective and least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule and is consistent with the statutory requirements. In addition, section 203 requires a plan for informing and advising any small governments that may be significantly or uniquely impacted by the rule. We have determined that this rule will not result in the expenditure by State, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more than $100 million in any one year. Accordingly, we have not prepared a budgetary impact statement, specifically addressed the regulatory alternatives considered, or prepared a plan for informing and advising any significantly or uniquely impacted small governments. There are no costs associated with this regulation. It clarifies the protection of confidential information contained in the records of State child support enforcement agencies. either, imposes substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments and is not required by statute, or the rule preempts State law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements of section 6 of the Executive Order. This rule does not have federalism impact as defined in the Executive Order. Congressional Review This notice of proposed rule making is not a major rule as defined in 5 U.S.C. chapter 8. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Programs No. 93.563, Child Support Enforcement Program.) Assessment of Federal Regulations and Policies on Families Section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1999 requires Federal agencies to determine whether a proposed policy or regulation may affect family well-being. If the agency’s determination is affirmative, then the agency must prepare an impact assessment addressing seven criteria specified in the law. This regulation protects the confidentiality of information contained in the records of State child support enforcement agencies. These regulations will not have an adverse impact on family well-being as defined in the legislation. Executive Order 13132 Executive Order 13132 prohibits an agency from publishing any rule that has federalism implications if the rule PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 List of Subjects 45 CFR Part 302 Child support, Grants programs/social programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 45 CFR Part 303 Child support, Grant programs/social programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. 45 CFR Part 307 Child support, Grant programs/social programs, computer technology, requirements. Dated: February 19, 2010. Carmen R. Nazario, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. Approved: March 31, 2010. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Accordingly, the Department of Health and Human Services proposes to amend 45 CFR part 301 and to further amend 45 CFR parts 302, 303, and 307, as amended September 26, 2008 (73 FR 56443), effective March 23, 2009, and delayed March 20, 2009 (74 FR 11880), until May 22, 2009, and delayed again May 22, 2009 (74 FR 23798), until December 30, 2010, as follows: PART 301—STATE PLAN REQUIREMENTS 1. The authority citation for part 301 continues to read as follows: Authority: 42 U.S.C. 651 through 658, 660, 664, 666, 667, 1301, and 1302. E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 32156 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules 2. Section 301.1 is amended by adding a definition for ‘‘agent of a child’’ in alphabetical order to read as follows: § 301.1 General definitions. * * * * * Agent of a child means a caretaker relative having custody of or responsibility for the child. * * * * * PART 302—STATE PLAN REQUIREMENTS 3. The authority citation for part 302 continues to read as follows: Authority: 42 U.S.C. 651 through 658, 660, 663, 664, 666, 667, 1302, 1396a(a)(25), 1396b(d)(2), 1396b(o), 1396b(p), 1396(k). 4. Amend § 302.35 by revising paragraphs (c)(3) and (d) to read as follows: § 302.35 State parent locator service. WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (c) * * * (3) The resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a child who is not receiving assistance under title IV–A of the Act only if the individual: (i) Attests that the request is being made to obtain information on, or to facilitate the discovery of, any individual in accordance with section 453(a)(2) of the Act for the purpose of establishing parentage, establishing, setting the amount of, modifying, or enforcing child support obligations; (ii) Attests that any information obtained through the Federal or State PLS shall be used solely for these purposes and shall be otherwise treated as confidential; (iii) Pays the fee required for Federal PLS services under section 453(e)(2) of the Act and § 303.70(f)(2)(i) of this chapter, if the State does not pay the fee itself. The State may also charge a fee to cover its costs of processing the request, which must be as close to actual costs as possible, so as not to discourage requests to use the Federal PLS. If the State itself pays the fee for use of the Federal PLS or the State PLS in a non-IV–D case, Federal financial participation is not available in those expenditures. * * * * * (d) Authorized purposes for requests and scope of information provided. The State PLS shall obtain location information under this section only for the purpose specified in paragraphs (d)(1), (d)(2) and (d)(3) of this section. (1) To locate an individual with respect to a child in a IV–D, non-IV–D, IV–B, or IV–E case. The State PLS shall locate individuals for the purpose of VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 establishing parentage, or establishing, setting the amount of, modifying, or enforcing child support obligations or for determining who has or may have parental rights with respect to a child. For these purposes, only information in the Federal PLS or the State PLS may be provided. This information is limited to name, Social Security Number(s), most recent address, employer name and address, employer identification number, wages or other income from, and benefits of, employment, including rights to, or enrollment in, health care coverage, and asset or debt information. (2) To assist States in carrying out their responsibilities under title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B, and IV–E programs. In addition to the information that may be released pursuant to paragraph (d)(1) of this section, State PLS information may be disclosed to State IV–D, IV–A, IV–B, and IV–E agencies for the purpose of assisting States to carry out their responsibilities to administer title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B, and IV–E programs, including information to locate an individual who is a child or a relative of a child in a IV–B or IV–E case. Information that may be disclosed about relatives of children involved in IV–B and IV–E cases is limited to name, Social Security Number(s), most recent address, employer name and address and employer identification number. (3) To locate an individual sought for the unlawful taking or restraint of a child or for child custody or visitation purposes. The State PLS shall locate individuals for the purpose of enforcing a State law with respect to the unlawful taking or restraint of a child or for making or enforcing a child custody or visitation determination as defined in section 463(d)(1) of the Act. This information is limited to most recent address and place of employment of a parent or child. * * * * * PART 303—STANDARDS FOR PROGRAM OPERATIONS 5. The authority citation for part 303 continues to read as follows: Authority: 42 U.S.C. 651 through 658, 660, 663, 664, 666, 667, 1302, 1396a(a)(25), 1396b(d)(2), 1396b(o), 1396b(p) and 1396(k). 6. Amend § 303.21 by revising paragraph (d)(1) introductory text to read as follows: § 303.21 Safeguarding and disclosure of confidential information. * * * * * (d) Authorized disclosures. (1) Upon request, the IV–D agency may, to the extent that it does not interfere with the IV–D agency meeting its own PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 obligations and subject to such requirements as the Office may prescribe, disclose confidential information to State agencies as necessary to assist them to carry out their responsibilities under plans and programs funded under titles IV (including Tribal programs under title IV), XIX, or XXI of the Act, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including: * * * * * 7. Revise § 303.69(c) to read as follows: § 303.69 Requests by agents or attorneys of the United States for information from the Federal Parent Locator Service (PLS). * * * * * (c) All requests under this section shall contain the information specified in § 303.70(d) of this part. * * * * * 8. Amend § 303.70 by revising paragraphs (a), (e) introductory text, (e)(1)(i), and (e)(2) to read as follows: § 303.70 Procedures for submissions to the State Parent Locator Service (State PLS) or the Federal Parent Locator Service (Federal PLS). (a) The State agency will have procedures for submissions to the State PLS or the Federal PLS for the purpose of locating parents, putative fathers, or children for the purpose of establishing parentage or establishing, setting the amount of, modifying, or enforcing child support obligations; for the purpose of enforcing any Federal or State law with respect to the unlawful taking or restraint of a child or making or enforcing a child custody or visitation determination as defined in section 463(d)(1) of the Act, or for the purpose of assisting State agencies to carry out their responsibilities under title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B, and IV–E programs. * * * * * (e) The director of the IV–D agency or his or her designee shall attest annually to the following: (1)(i) The IV–D agency will only obtain information to facilitate the location of any individual in accordance with section 453(a)(2) of the Act for the purpose of establishing parentage, establishing, setting the amount of, modifying, or enforcing child support obligations, or for determining who has or may have parental rights with respect to a child, or in accordance with section 453(a)(3) of the Act for enforcing a State law with respect to the unlawful taking or restraint of a child, or for making or enforcing a child custody or visitation determination as defined in section 463(d)(1) of the Act, or in accordance E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 108 / Monday, June 7, 2010 / Proposed Rules with section 453(j)(3) of the Act for the purpose of assisting State agencies to carry out their responsibilities under title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B, and IV–E programs. * * * * * (2) In the case of a submittal made on behalf of a resident parent, legal guardian, attorney or agent of a child not receiving assistance under title IV– A, the IV–D agency must verify that the requesting individual has complied with the provisions of § 302.35 of this chapter. * * * * * PART 307—COMPUTERIZED SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT SYSTEMS IN OPERATION AFTER OCTOBER 1, 1997 WReier-Aviles on DSKGBLS3C1PROD with PROPOSALS 9. The authority citation for part 307 continues to read as follows: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:25 Jun 04, 2010 Jkt 220001 Authority: 42 U.S.C. 652 through 658, 664, 666 through 669A, and 1302. 10. Amend § 307.13 by revising paragraphs (a)(3), (4)(iii), and (iv) to read as follows: § 307.13 Security and confidentiality for computerized support enforcement systems in operation after October 1, 1997. * * * * * (a) * * * (3) Permit disclosure of information to State agencies administering programs under titles IV (including Tribal programs under title IV), XIX, and XXI of the Act, and SNAP, to the extent necessary to assist them to carry out their responsibilities under such programs in accordance with section 454A(f)(3) of the Act, to the extent that it does not interfere with the IV–D program meeting its own obligations PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 32157 and subject to such requirements as prescribed by the Office. (4) * * * (iii) NDNH and FCR information may be disclosed without independent verification to IV–B and IV–E agencies to locate parents and putative fathers for the purpose of establishing parentage or establishing parental rights with respect to a child; and (iv) NDNH and FCR information may be disclosed without independent verification to title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B and IV–E agencies for the purpose of assisting States to carry out their responsibilities to administer title IV–D, IV–A, IV–B and IV–E programs. [FR Doc. 2010–13021 Filed 6–4–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P E:\FR\FM\07JNP1.SGM 07JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 108 (Monday, June 7, 2010)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 32145-32157]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-13021]


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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Administration for Children and Families

45 CFR Parts 301, 302, 303, and 307


Safeguarding Child Support Information

AGENCY: Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), Administration for 
Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services 
(HHS).

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity 
Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) created and expanded State and 
Federal Child Support Enforcement databases under title IV-D of the 
Social Security Act and significantly enhanced access to information 
for title IV-D child support purposes. States are moving toward more 
integrated service delivery to better serve the families and further 
the mission of the child support enforcement program, while protecting 
confidential data. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes 
requirements for: State Parent Locator Service responses to authorized 
location requests; and State Child Support Enforcement program 
safeguards for confidential information and authorized disclosures of 
this information. This proposed rule would revise certain aspects of 
the final rule State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding Child Support 
Information Final Rule published on September 26, 2008 and effective 
December 30, 2010. This NPRM will prohibit disclosure of confidential 
and personally identifiable information to private collection agencies 
and expand disclosure to child welfare programs and the Supplemental 
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

DATES: Consideration will be given to comments received on or before 
August 6, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Interested persons are invited to submit written 
comments via regular postal mail to: Office of Child Support 
Enforcement, Administration for Children and Families, 370 L'Enfant 
Promenade, SW., 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20447, Attention: Division of 
Policy; Mail Stop: ACF/OCSE/DP.

[[Page 32146]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paige Hausburg, OCSE, Division of 
Policy, (202) 401-5635, e-mail paige.hausburg@acf.hhs.gov. Deaf and 
hearing-impaired individuals may call the Federal Dual Party Relay 
Service at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. eastern time.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Statutory Authority

    This NPRM is published under the authority granted to the Secretary 
of the United States Department of Health and Human Services 
(Secretary) by sections 1102, 453, 454, 454A, and 463 of the Social 
Security Act (the Act). Section 1102 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 1302, 
authorizes the Secretary to publish regulations that may be necessary 
for the efficient administration of the Child Support Enforcement 
program authorized under title IV-D of the Act (IV-D program).
    The provisions of this NPRM pertaining to the Federal Parent 
Locator Service (Federal PLS) implement sections 453 of the Act, 42 
U.S.C. 653. Section 453 requires the Secretary to establish and conduct 
a Federal Parent Locator Service (Federal PLS) to obtain and transmit 
specified information only to authorized persons for purposes of 
establishing parentage, or establishing, modifying, or enforcing child 
support obligations. Section 453 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 653 also 
authorizes the Secretary to disclose information in the Federal PLS to 
the State Child Support Enforcement program (authorized under title IV-
D of the Social Security Act), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families 
program (TANF or IV-A program authorized under title IV-A of the Social 
Security Act), Child Welfare Services program (IV-B program authorized 
under title IV-B of the Act), and Foster Care and Adoption Assistance 
program (IV-E program authorized under title IV-E of the Act) to assist 
States in carrying out their responsibilities under those programs. 
Section 463 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 663, also permits States to use 
information in the Federal PLS for the purpose of enforcing any Federal 
or State law with respect to a parental kidnapping or making or 
enforcing a child custody or visitation determination. In addition, the 
provisions of this NPRM pertaining to the State Parent Locator Service 
(State PLS) implement sections 454(8) and (17), 42 U.S.C. 654(8) and 
(17), which require each State IV-D program to establish a State Parent 
Locator Service (State PLS) to locate parents by exchanging data with 
the Federal PLS and utilizing other information sources and records.
    Several sections of the Act require safeguarding measures for 
information contained in State and Federal databases, including the 
National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) and the Federal Case Registry 
(FCR). Section 454(8) requires States receiving funding under title IV-
D to have a State plan providing that the State IV-D program will: (1) 
Establish a service to locate parents utilizing all sources of 
information and available records and the Federal PLS; and (2) disclose 
the information described in sections 453 and 463 only to the 
``authorized persons'' specified in sections 453 and 463, subject to 
the privacy safeguards in section 454(26) of the Act. In addition, 
sections 453(m) and 463(c) restrict disclosure of confidential 
information maintained by the Federal PLS only to an ``authorized 
person'' for an authorized purpose and require the Secretary to 
establish and implement safeguards designed to restrict access to 
confidential information in the Federal PLS to authorized persons for 
authorized purposes. Section 453(l), 42 U.S.C. 653(l), also specifies 
that information in the FPLS shall not be used or disclosed except as 
expressly provided in section 453. Section 454(26), 42 U.S.C. 654(26), 
requires the State IV-D agency to have in effect safeguards, applicable 
to all confidential information handled by the State agency, that are 
designed to protect the privacy rights of the parties. Additionally, 
sections 454(16) and 454A, 42 U.S.C. 654(16) and 654a, require States 
to maintain computerized child support enforcement systems to carry out 
their responsibilities under title IV-D and to have in effect 
safeguards on the access to and use of data in the State's automated 
system.

II. Background

    This NPRM will prohibit disclosure of confidential and personally 
identifiable information to private collection agencies and expand the 
disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information to 
child welfare programs authorized under titles IV-B and IV-E and the 
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). On September 26, 
2008, a final rule, following notice and comment period, entitled 
``State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding Child Support 
Information,'' was published in the Federal Register [73 FR 56422] to 
address requirements for State Parent Locator Service responses to 
authorized location requests, State IV-D program safeguarding of 
confidential information, authorized disclosures of this information, 
and restrictions on the use of confidential data and information for 
child support purposes with exceptions for certain disclosures 
permitted by statute. The effective date given for the final rule was 
March 23, 2009. In accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2009, 
from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff entitled 
``Regulatory Review'' [74 FR 4435], on March 3, 2009, the Department 
published a notice in the Federal Register [74 FR 9171] seeking public 
comment on a contemplated delay of 60 days in the effective date of the 
rule entitled ``State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding Child 
Support Information.'' In response to those comments, the Department 
issued a subsequent notice published in the Federal Register [74 FR 
11879] on March 20, 2009, which delayed the effective date of the 
September 26, 2008 rule by 60 days until May 22, 2009, in order to 
permit Departmental officials the opportunity for further review of the 
issues of law and policy raised by this rule. However, subsequent to 
publication of the March 20, 2009 notice, the Department determined 
that additional time would be needed for officials to complete their 
review of the rule and to fully assess the substantive comments 
received in response to the March 3, 2009 notice. As a result, on April 
15, 2009 a notice was published in the Federal Register [74 FR 17445] 
indicating that the Department was contemplating a further delay in the 
effective date of the ``State Parent Locator Service; Safeguarding 
Child Support Information'' final rule to December 30, 2010, and 
requesting comments on the delay of the effective date. In response to 
comments from the April 15, 2009 notice, the Department issued a 
subsequent notice, published in the Federal Register [74 FR 23798] on 
May 21, 2009 delaying the effective date of the September 26, 2008 rule 
to December 30, 2010.
    Although the March 3, 2009 and the April 15, 2009 notices invited 
comments on whether a delay in the rule's effective date was needed 
``to allow Departmental officials the opportunity for further review 
and consideration,'' both notices also generated focused substantive 
comments recommending changes to several particular provisions of the 
final rule that warrant further consideration. In addition to 
supporting a delay in the effective date of the rule, the comments 
raised specific policy concerns regarding two areas of the September 
26, 2008 final rule: (1) The rules for

[[Page 32147]]

disclosure of confidential and personally identifiable information 
about individuals maintained by State IV-D programs to a private, for-
profit child support collection agency as an ``agent of a child''; and 
(2) the child welfare data exchange provisions of the rules in light of 
legislation enacted in October 2008 after publication of the final 
rule.
    With respect to disclosure of information to private collection 
agencies, concerns have been raised by commenters, Departmental 
officials, media coverage, litigation and program stakeholders that the 
government's disclosure of confidential information to private child 
support collection agencies may not serve the child's best interests. 
Specific comments have been raised about the risks involved in 
disclosing confidential data to private collection agencies not acting 
as a State's agent under a contractual relationship nor required to 
comply with ethics and confidentiality rules such as those governing 
State agencies and private attorneys, and whose business practices are 
largely unregulated and not subject to program oversight.
    Additionally, commenters on the March 3 and April 15, 2009 notices 
stated that a delay in the effective date would give the Administration 
an opportunity to conduct a review of the child welfare data exchange 
provisions to ensure that the provisions of the rule conform to The 
Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Pub. L. 
110-351), signed into law on October 7, 2008, eleven days after the 
Safeguarding Final Rule was published. One commenter also indicated 
that the final rule appeared to prohibit the State IV-D agency from 
disclosing confidential information, such as child support payment 
records, to other State agencies, including the State food assistance 
program (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program 
(SNAP)).
    This NPRM proposes limited changes to the final regulation 
published on September 26, 2008 to address concerns identified by 
Department officials as well as those raised by commenters. Only 
selected portions of the ``State Parent Locator; Safeguarding Child 
Support Information'' final rule are addressed in the NPRM. The final 
rule published on September 26, 2008 in 73 FR 56442 will go into effect 
on December 30, 2010. It is our intent that the selected revised 
sections, as proposed in this notice, also will go into effect on 
December 30, 2010 via a separate final rule. We are specifically 
seeking comments on those issues raised by commenters as mentioned 
above and the proposed revisions discussed further below.
    The preamble includes a discussion about the rationale behind the 
changes, followed by an explanation of the provisions of the proposed 
regulation. The major issues include a prohibition against disclosure 
of confidential and personally identifiable information to private 
child support collection agencies and expanded release of information 
for titles IV-B and IV-E purposes. In order to address concerns 
regarding disclosure of information to private child support collection 
agencies, we propose to define the term ``agent of a child'' as it is 
used in section 453(c)(3). Under a broad interpretation of the term 
``agent of a child'' included in policy guidance previously issued by 
OCSE, a private collection agency is treated as an agent of a child in 
some States and thus may obtain confidential information about parents 
and families from the Federal PLS and State PLS. However, this term is 
not defined in the statute or regulation. The proposed definition of 
``agent of a child'' included in this NPRM will prohibit the disclosure 
of information to private child support collection agencies concerning 
which the State has no contractual relationship or oversight 
responsibility, and also will revise sections of the rule that are 
inconsistent with the proposed definition of ``agent of a child.'' The 
proposed definition will supersede the five policy statements issued by 
OCSE in 2002 and 2003 with respect to disclosure of information 
contained in the State PLS and the Federal PLS to private child support 
collection agencies. The prior policy allowed States to disclose PLS 
information to private collection agencies, and although never 
promulgated as a rule, it has been in place for several years. We are 
particularly interested in comments on superseding the previously-
issued policy. A more detailed explanation of these policy documents, 
and the underlying policy considerations, are discussed in section III 
of the preamble.
    We also propose revisions to the rule that would expand permissible 
disclosure of information in the Federal PLS and the State PLS to State 
IV-B and IV-E agencies to assist States in carrying out their 
responsibilities under those programs, pursuant to section 453(j)(3), 
as amended by The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing 
Adoptions Act of 2009 (Pub. L. 110-351).

III. Discussion of the Issues

    In late 2002, OCSE issued a series of four policy statements dated 
December 4, 2002 addressing Federal law and regulation on disclosure of 
information and redirection of child support payments to private 
collection agencies. OCSE also issued a fifth policy statement 
addressing the same issues on May 23, 2003. The policy statements are:
     AT-02-04, Providing FPLS locate services to an ``agent of 
the child'' for child support purposes; \1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/AT/2002/at-02-04.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     DCL-02-35, Federal Guidance on Private Collection 
Agencies; \2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/DCL/2002/dcl-02-35.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     IM-02-09, Effective Practices for Working with Child 
Support Private Collection Agencies; \3\ and
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/IM/2002/im-02-09.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     PIQ-02-02, Requests by Custodial Parents for a Change of 
Address for the Disbursement of the Custodial Parent's Share of Child 
Support Collections; \4\
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    \4\ Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/PIQ/2002/piq-02-02.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     PIQ-03-05, Guidance on Private Collection Agencies--Agent 
of a Child and Third Party Addresses for Correspondence.\5\
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    \5\ Available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/PIQ/2003/piq-03-05.htm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The policy guidance issued in 2002 and 2003 stated that Federal law 
and regulation did not prohibit State IV-D programs from providing 
confidential and personally identifiable information and redirecting 
child support collections to private collection agencies upon request 
of a custodial parent-payee. The policy stated that, if permitted under 
applicable State law, a private collection agency could act as the 
``agent of a child.'' The term was not defined in the Act or in 
regulation and it was left to States to determine whether or not to 
release such information to private collection agencies. The policy 
guidance was issued by OCSE following the issuance of a General 
Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) report 
regarding access to information in Federal databases and use of wage 
withholding by private child support collection agencies (GAO 02-349, 
March 2002).
    Public comments received in response to the March 3 and April 15, 
2009 notices, as well as recent litigation alleging unlawful actions by 
private child support collection agencies adverse to the interests of 
families

[[Page 32148]]

served by the IV-D program,\6\ have given us sufficient concern to 
reassess the September 26, 2008 rule and the 2002 and 2003 policy 
guidance permitting disclosure of confidential information in the 
Federal and State databases to private collection agencies. 
Accordingly, this NPRM proposes revisions to relevant parts of the 
September 26, 2008 rule that would supersede the 2002 and 2003 policy 
statements with respect to disclosure of confidential and personally 
identifiable information in the Federal PLS and the State PLS to 
private child support collection agencies due to: (1) The increase in 
public security and privacy concerns with personally identifiable data 
maintained by the government and the dramatic increase in incidences of 
identity theft; (2) the questionable practices and fiscal instability 
of several large private child support collection agencies; and (3) the 
Department's interest in promoting policies that serve the best 
interest of children and families. These underlying policy 
considerations, discussed further below, have informed our proposed 
definition of ``agent of the child'' in proposed Sec.  301.1, discussed 
in section IV.
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    \6\ United States Postal Service v. Child Support Services of 
Atlanta, Inc., No. 7:09-CV-111 (M.D. Ga. Feb. 19, 2010): 
Commonwealth of Virginia, et al. v. Supportkids, Inc., No. 08000728-
00 (Va. Cir. Ct. Richmond City Nov. 17, 2009); and Commonwealth of 
Virginia, et al. v. Supportkids Services, Inc., No. 3:10-CV-73, 2010 
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30726 (E.D. Va. Mar. 29, 2010).
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Increase in Security and Privacy Concerns

    In June 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 
Office of the Chief Information Officer, issued the HHS-OCIO Policy for 
Information Systems Security and Privacy (http://www.hhs.gov/ocio/policy/hhs-ocio_policy_for_information_systems_security_and_privacy__.html). The policy provides direction to the information 
technology security programs of HHS Operating Divisions and Staff 
Divisions for the security and privacy of HHS data in accordance with 
the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA). The 
policy states that, ``The HHS Information Security and Privacy Program 
(henceforth, ``the Program'') has evolved and matured over the last 
several years as new Federal requirements have been published and as 
advances in technology have been made. Citizens' concerns over the 
unauthorized disclosure of protected health information and personally 
identifiable information have placed information technology security 
and privacy issues at the forefront of the national dialogue, 
positively impacting the way in which public, private, and government 
organizations provide services and protect information.'' In recent 
years, Congress also has held a number of hearings highlighting rising 
concerns with identity theft and other confidentiality issues.\7\ In 
light of this new HHS policy and its associated requirements, as well 
as the concerns expressed in Congressional hearings, we believe that 
more rigorous controls over access by private entities to confidential 
and personally identifiable data, including Social Security numbers, 
are warranted.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ For example, see the Committee on Oversight and Government 
Reform's Hearing on ``Identity Theft: Victims Bill of Rights'' at: 
http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4264&catid=48:hearings&Itemid=29.
    http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=db89f4c3-b2b8-42fd-8dae-934a1b317c35
    http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4286:qprivacy-the-use-of-commericial-information-resellers-by-federal-agenciesq&catid=48:hearings&Itemid=29
    http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=detail&hearing=570&comm=4.
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Questionable Practices of Child Support Private Collection Industry

    In addition to privacy concerns, OCSE takes its obligation as 
steward of confidential and personally identifiable information that 
has been entrusted by parents and Congress very seriously. Several 
private child support collection agencies have had a history of 
consumer complaints made by custodial parents, non-custodial parents, 
grandparents, employers, and courts, as well as the recent litigation 
brought by the U.S. Postal Service and Commonwealth of Virginia cited 
above. The complaints allege that some private collection agencies use 
questionable tactics, including deceptive advertising, perpetual 
service contracts that prohibit cancellation, falsely representing the 
business as a government office, using official-looking documents to 
pressure employers to redirect support withheld from employees' 
paychecks, demanding payments from grandparents, demanding payments 
from non-custodial parents that are not owed, and other allegedly 
deceptive and abusive tactics.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Some of these practices are described in U.S. General 
Accountability Office, Child Support Enforcement: Clear Guidance 
Would Help Ensure Proper Access to Information and Use of Wage 
Withholding by Private Firms. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02349.pdf
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    OCSE is aware of recent litigation filed by the United States 
Postal Service alleging that a private collection agency misrepresented 
itself as a State agency to defraud parents in several States. Two 
cases were filed by the State Attorney General on behalf of Virginia. 
Such litigation reflects a growing national concern with the business 
practices sometimes used by private child support collection agencies. 
It is the Department's position that such questionable practices should 
not be facilitated or subsidized by providing access to confidential 
information entrusted to the Federal Government and States. A recent 
bankruptcy filing by one of the largest private collection agencies and 
subsequent transfer of parents' cases to other companies with which the 
parents had no contact has added to our concern. This proposed rule 
would not prohibit or ban these private collection activities. Such 
companies can still acquire data directly from the custodial parents 
who sign up for their services or through private data search 
companies.

Promoting Policies That Serve the Best Interest of Children and 
Families

    We are concerned that policies issued by the Department should 
generally promote the best interest of children and families. The child 
support program is no longer primarily a welfare reimbursement, cost 
recovery device for the Federal and State governments; it is now a 
family-first program intended to ensure families' self-sufficiency and 
strengthen parents' commitment to supporting their children.\9\ Child 
support policies should help increase, not decrease, family income and 
stability, and strengthen, not undermine, parent-child relationships. 
As indicated previously, consumer complaints allege that the practices 
of some private child support collection agencies have had the effect 
of reducing child support income received by families and increasing 
conflict between parents, and thus do not serve the best interests of 
children and families.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ See the National Child Support Enforcement Strategic Plan FY 
2005-2009, at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pubs/2004/Strategic_Plan_FY2005-2009.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Expansion of the Release of Information for IV-B/E Program Purposes

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act 
of 2008 (the Fostering Connections Act) was signed into law on October 
7, 2008, eleven days after the publication of the Safeguarding Final 
Rule published on September 26, 2008. Section 105 of the Fostering 
Connections Act amended section 453(j)(3) of the Social Security Act to 
expand the authority for

[[Page 32149]]

information comparisons and disclosures of information in all 
registries for title IV program purposes to include child welfare and 
foster care programs funded under part B and part E of the Social 
Security Act. The new law authorizes disclosure of information in the 
Federal PLS and the State PLS to conduct data matches and share data 
with child welfare agencies ``to the extent and with the frequency that 
the Secretary determines to be effective in assisting States to carry 
out their responsibilities under this part [D], part B or E, and 
programs funded under part A.''
    Section 103 of the Fostering Connections Act amends section 471(a) 
of the Social Security Act to provide additional authority to expand 
the scope of information disclosed to State IV-B and IV-E programs by 
adding paragraph (29) requiring the State to have a child welfare plan 
that:

    (29) provides that, within 30 days after the removal of a child 
from the custody of the parent or parents of the child, the State 
shall exercise due diligence to identify and provide notice to all 
adult grandparents and other adult relatives of the child (including 
any other adult relatives suggested by the parents), subject to 
exceptions due to family or domestic violence, that--
    (A) Specifies that the child has been or is being removed from 
the custody of the parent or parents of the child;
    (B) explains the options the relative has under Federal, State, 
and local law to participate in the care and placement of the child, 
including any options that may be lost by failing to respond to the 
notice;
    (C) describes the requirements under paragraph (10) of this 
subsection to become a foster family home and the additional 
services and supports that are available for children placed in such 
a home; and
    (D) if the State has elected the option to make kinship 
guardianship assistance payments under paragraph (28) of this 
subsection, describes how the relative guardian of the child may 
subsequently enter into an agreement with the State under section 
473(d) to receive the payments.

    In addition, section 206 of the Fostering Connections Act requires 
the child welfare agency to make reasonable efforts to place siblings 
removed from their home in the same foster care, kinship guardianship, 
or adoptive placement, unless joint placement would be contrary to the 
safety or well-being of any of the siblings, and to provide for 
frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction between the siblings 
if the children are not placed in the same home. Information in the 
Federal PLS and State PLS regarding the location of adult relatives and 
siblings of children involved in child welfare and foster care cases 
would assist IV-B and IV-E State agencies to meet the requirements of 
sections 103 and 206 of the Fostering Connections Act.
    Comments received in response to the March 3 and April 15, 2009 
notices indicate that the amendment made to section 453(j)(3) of the 
Act made by the Fostering Connections Act permits disclosure of a 
broader range of information to IV-B and IV-E agencies for a broader 
range of authorized purposes that was not fully addressed in the 
September 26, 2008 regulation. Therefore, this proposed regulation 
expands disclosure of information to IV-B and IV-E agencies to assist 
States in carrying out their responsibilities under those programs, 
including locating relatives of children removed from parental custody 
in order to identify potential placements for the child and assist the 
State agency in permanency planning.

IV. Provisions in the Proposed Regulations

Part 301

Sec. 301.1 Definitions (``Agent of the Child'')
    As discussed above, section 453 of the Act, enacted in 1975 by 
Public Law 93-647, prohibits the Federal PLS from releasing 
confidential and personally identifiable information about individuals 
maintained by the IV-D program, other than to an ``authorized person'' 
for an authorized purpose. Section 453(c) defines ``authorized person'' 
as:

    (1) any agent or attorney of any State having in effect a plan 
approved under this part, who has the duty or authority under such 
plans to seek to recover any amounts owed as child and spousal 
support or to seek to enforce orders providing child custody or 
visitation rights (including, when authorized under the State plan, 
any official of a political subdivision);
    (2) the court which has authority to issue an order against a 
noncustodial parent for the support and maintenance of a child, or 
to issue an order against a resident parent for child custody or 
visitation rights, or any agent of such court;
    (3) the resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a 
child (other than a child receiving assistance under a State program 
funded under part A) (as determined by regulations prescribed by the 
Secretary) without regard to the existence of a court order against 
a noncustodial parent who has a duty to support and maintain any 
such child; and
    (4) a State agency that is administering a program operated 
under a State plan under subpart 1 of part B, or a State plan 
approved under subpart 2 of part B or under part E.

Similarly, 45 CFR 302.35(c)(3), which requires the State PLS to accept 
requests for confidential and personally identifiable information only 
from authorized persons, incorporates the definition of ``authorized 
persons'' specified in section 453(c).
    As stated in section 453(c)(3), an authorized person includes ``the 
resident parent, legal guardian, attorney, or agent of a child (other 
than a child receiving assistance under a program funded under part 
A).'' A ``resident parent'' lives with the child and provides the 
child's day-to-day care. An individual who has been appointed by court 
order as a child's ``legal guardian'' is legally responsible for the 
child's care and has a legal obligation to act in the child's best 
interest. An ``attorney'' has an ethical obligation to represent the 
interests of the child, and is subject to State licensure and 
professional responsibility rules.\10\ The terms resident parent, legal 
guardian and attorney are commonly understood and therefore are not 
further defined herein. We also note that each of these ``authorized 
persons'' has a relationship with the child that imposes an intrinsic 
responsibility to assure protection of the child's welfare and 
interests. For example, a private attorney involved in a child support 
case has undertaken the responsibility to provide legal representation 
to the resident parent or child related to the establishment, 
modification or enforcement of a child support obligation. An attorney-
client relationship has thus been created which imposes an ethical and 
fiduciary duty upon the attorney to represent the child's best 
interests, and the attorney is subject to a Code of Professional 
Responsibility. Since the term ``agent of a child,'' on the other hand, 
is susceptible to broad interpretation and, as has been demonstrated, 
may previously have included ``agents'' with a pecuniary interest of 
their own that may be inconsistent with the child's best interests, we 
believe that this term warrants definition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ See, e.g., In the Matter of Struthers, 179 Ariz. 216 
(Arizona Sup. Ct., 1994), where the Arizona Supreme Court disbarred 
a private attorney who used a variety of tactics to collect child 
support that violated rules of professional responsibility.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    While the term ``agent of a child'' is not defined in statute or 
rule, section 454(11)(B) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 654(11)(B), also enacted 
in 1975 by Public Law 93-647, (formerly, section 454(12) of the Act), 
is instructive. Section 454(11)(B) requires States to distribute child 
support payments as specified in sections 456 and 457, 42 U.S.C. 656 
and 657. Section 454(11)(B) provides that a State plan must:

    Provide that any payment required to be made under section 456 
or 457 to a family shall be made to the resident parent, legal

[[Page 32150]]

guardian, or caretaker relative having custody of or responsibility 
for the child or children. (Emphasis added.)

A ``caretaker relative'' is a longstanding term used in the Temporary 
Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program and its predecessor 
program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), to refer to 
those relatives responsible for the day-to-day care of children and who 
are eligible to apply for cash assistance for needy families, 
regardless of the existence of a legal custody order or legal 
guardianship status.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ See, e.g., 42 U.S.C. 602(a)(1)(A); Rodriguez v. Vowell, 472 
F.2d 622 (5th Cir.), cert. denied 412 U.S. 944, 93 Sup. Ct. 2777, 37 
L.Ed.2d 404 (1973) (``The plain language of the Social Security Act, 
its legislative history, and the relevant decisional precedent make 
clear that the needs of the caretaker relative, as well as those of 
the dependent child, are to be considered in deciding if a family is 
eligible for an AFDC grant.'')
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We have carefully considered the intent of Congress in designating 
an ``agent of a child,'' and believe the close connection in language 
between sections 453(c)(3) and 454(11)(B) and the long-established 
understanding of ``caretaker relative'' for title IV-A purposes is 
informative. Accordingly, we propose to amend Sec.  301.1 by adding the 
following definition:

    Agent of a Child means a caretaker relative having custody of or 
responsibility for the child.

    We believe that limiting the definition of ``agent of the child'' 
to ``caretaker relative'' is consistent with the other terms in section 
453(c) which identify individuals with responsibility to protect and 
further the child's best interest. As indicated, the proposed 
definition has a statutory basis that is derived from and consistent 
with section 454(11)(B). The proposed definition of the term ``agent of 
a child'' recognizes the practical reality that children are sometimes 
left in the care of a grandmother or other relative and, even though 
the relative may not have been appointed by a court as the child's 
legal guardian or have legal custody of the child, the relative can be 
expected to protect and act in the child's best interest. The 
definition also accords with the responsibility of the government to 
safeguard confidential and personally identifiable information and 
prevent misuse of the data.
    This section is open to public comment. We are specifically seeking 
comments on this proposed definition of ``agent of a child'' which will 
supersede the 2002 and 2003 policy options which allowed States to 
determine whether or not to permit disclosure of confidential and 
personally identifiable information to private child support collection 
agencies. We also are seeking comments on whether to add a definition 
of ``attorney of the child'' to the final rule.
Sec. 302.35 State Parent Locator Service
    The final regulation at Sec.  302.35(a) requires each State to 
maintain a State PLS to provide locate information to authorized 
persons for authorized purposes. This paragraph is not open for notice 
and comment and will not be addressed in this NPRM. The effective date 
of this paragraph is December 30, 2010.
    The final regulation at Sec.  302.35(b) requires the State IV-D 
program to maintain a central State PLS. This paragraph is not open for 
notice and comment and will not be addressed in this NPRM. The 
effective date of this paragraph is December 30, 2010.
    In the final rule published on September 26, 2008, the amendments 
to Sec.  302.35(c) were intended to establish safeguards for accessing 
locate information in the State PLS and the Federal PLS, specifically 
with respect to requests from a resident parent, legal guardian, 
attorney, or agent of a non-IV-D child. We propose to open only 
paragraph (c)(3) for comment. Paragraphs (c)(1), (c)(2) and (c)(4) will 
remain intact. The effective date of those parts of these paragraphs is 
December 30, 2010.
    We propose to eliminate Sec.  302.35(c)(3)(iii) which includes a 
provision that an agent of a child not receiving assistance under title 
IV-A may provide evidence of a contract that meets the requirements of 
State law that will allow information to be provided to that agent. We 
are deleting this language because of the concerns identified by 
Departmental officials regarding disclosure of information to private 
child support collection agencies as discussed earlier in the preamble. 
We also would renumber Sec.  302.35(c)(3)(iv) as Sec.  
302.35(c)(3)(iii).
    The Fostering Connections Act has raised questions about the extent 
to which data maintained in the Federal PLS and State PLS is available 
to assist State child welfare agencies in carrying out their program 
responsibilities to locate potential placements for a child removed 
from parental custody and for permanency planning purposes. With the 
enactment of the Fostering Connections Act, there are now two separate 
sections of the Act that provide authority for the IV-D program to 
disclose information to State IV-B and IV-E agencies. Section 453(c) of 
the Social Security Act was amended in 1997 by The Adoption and Safe 
Families Act (Pub. L. 105-89) to include State IV-B and IV-E programs 
as authorized persons that may receive specified information under 
section 453(a) about the location, income and assets of a person ``who 
has or may have parental rights with respect to a child.'' 
Subsequently, the Fostering Connections Act amended section 453(j)(3) 
of the Social Security Act to authorize the Secretary to provide 
information to assist States in carrying out their responsibilities 
under part IV-B and IV-E. We are particularly seeking comments on 
proposed language with respect to two overarching issues. The first 
issue is whether the language in the Fostering Connections Act broadens 
the types of Federal PLS information otherwise available to State child 
welfare agencies under section 453 concerning parents and non-parent 
relatives of children involved in child welfare cases. The second issue 
is whether State IV-D programs should have the flexibility to provide a 
broader range of State PLS information to State child welfare agencies, 
for example, under an interagency agreement.
    We are thus specifically soliciting comments on proposed section 
302.35(d) regarding the scope of information that may be disclosed from 
the Federal PLS and State PLS concerning parents and non-parent 
relatives of children involved in child welfare cases pursuant to 
section 453(j)(3), as amended by the Fostering Connections Act. Data 
maintained in the Federal and State PLS may include information about 
the individual's location, income and employment benefits such as 
health insurance, assets, debts, child support payment history, and the 
family violence indicator (FVI), as well as other confidential 
information found in the automated system. We are specifically seeking 
comments as to: (1) Whether the information disclosed about parents of 
a child involved in a IV-B or IV-E case should be broader than 
information disclosed about non-parent relatives; (2) whether each 
State IV-D agency should have the option to provide a broader range of 
data elements to the State child welfare agency than available through 
the Federal PLS; and (3) the manner of data exchange between the State 
PLS and State child welfare agency, for example through the use of an 
interagency agreement or a memorandum of understanding. To that end, we 
have proposed language in 302.35(d)(2) to allow for a broader range of 
information that can be shared.
    We are opening section 302.35(d) for comment. Section 302.35(d)(1) 
permits access by State IV-B and IV-E agencies

[[Page 32151]]

to the State PLS locate function and the data elements listed in 
section 453(a) with respect to information about custodial parents, 
non-custodial parents, and putative fathers. We are specifically 
soliciting comments on this section of the regulation with respect to 
(1) authorized purposes for disclosure and (2) the scope of information 
available to IV-B and IV-E agencies about parents of children involved 
in IV-B and IV-E cases.
    We propose to redesignate section Sec.  302.35(d)(2) of the 
September 26, 2008 rule as Sec.  302.35(d)(3) and add a new Sec.  
302.35(d)(2) to identify the information that can be shared with IV-B 
and IV-E agencies to locate children and their relatives involved in 
IV-B and IV-E cases. This paragraph, which addresses information 
available from the State PLS, would permit disclosure for these 
reasons: Information about children and their relatives involved in a 
IV-B or IV-E case in order to assist State child welfare agencies in 
carrying out their program responsibilities to locate relatives for 
potential placement of a child removed from parental custody, to place 
siblings in groups, and to otherwise assist State agencies in their 
permanency planning responsibilities under the authority of section 
453(j) of the Act, for example, by providing information regarding the 
Family Violence Indicator (FVI) or information about a child's 
paternity status. We are specifically soliciting comments on this 
section of the regulation on the appropriate balance to strike between 
assisting IV-B and IV-E programs in placing children, and safeguarding 
the privacy of relatives whose information may be included in the 
Federal or State PLS. This section does not apply to IV-D information 
maintained outside of the State PLS, such as payment records.
    The proposed language is clear that the State PLS information may 
also be disclosed to State IV-A agencies for the purpose of assisting 
States to carry out their responsibilities to administer title IV-A 
programs. These programs include the TANF program, which funds cash 
assistance, workforce and other services, as well as Tribal programs 
operating under title IV-A authority.
    The final regulation at Sec.  302.35(e) addresses locate 
information subject to disclosure. This portion of the regulation is 
not open for notice and comment and is not addressed in this NPRM. The 
effective date of this paragraph is December 30, 2010.

Part 303

Sec. 303.3 Location of Noncustodial Parents in a IV-D Case
    This portion of the regulation is not open for notice and comment 
and is not addressed in this NPRM. The effective date of this paragraph 
is December 30, 2010.
Sec. 303.20 Minimum Organizational and Staffing Requirements
    We propose to amend paragraph (b)(7) of this section of the 
regulation to ensure consistency throughout this chapter based on 
proposed amendments to Sec. Sec.  302.35 and 303.70.
    This section is open for public comment.
Sec. 303.21 Safeguarding and Disclosure of Confidential Information
    Prior to the passage of PRWORA, the safeguarding regulation at 45 
CFR Sec.  303.21 allowed the disclosure of information connected to the 
administration of any Federal or federally assisted program which 
provides assistance, in cash or in kind, or services, directly to 
individuals on the basis of need. These needs-based programs included 
the Food Stamps program (now SNAP), as well as the AFDC program 
authorized under title IV-A (now TANF). The safeguarding rule was 
eliminated by interim final rule, published in the Federal Register on 
February 9, 1999 (64 FR 6237) in response to the President's Memorandum 
of March 4, 1995 to heads of Departments and Agencies which announced a 
government-wide Regulatory Reinvention Initiative to reduce or 
eliminate obsolete regulations and mandated burdens on States, other 
governmental agencies, or the private sector.
    As mentioned earlier in the preamble, during the comment 
solicitation period, the Department received a comment that the rule 
appeared to prohibit the State IV-D agency from disclosing such 
information as the child support payment records to SNAP. This was not 
the Department's intent. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 
2008, Public Law 110-246, enacted on June 18, 2008, amended section 
453(j)(10) of the Act to permit disclosure, for purposes of 
administering a supplemental nutrition assistance program under the 
Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, of information on the individuals and 
their employers maintained in the National Directory of New Hires. To 
comply with the changes made to section 453(j)(10) of the Act, and, in 
accordance with section 454A(f)(3) of the Act, this NPRM proposes to 
reinstate permission for disclosure of information, including the child 
support payment records, to SNAP.
    Accordingly, we propose to amend paragraph Sec.  303.21(d)(1) to 
include disclosures of information to the State agency administering 
SNAP. The remainder of Sec.  303.21 is not open for notice and comment 
and is not addressed in this NPRM.
    This section is open to public comment.
Sec. 303.69 Requests by Agents or Attorneys of the United States for 
Information From the Federal Parent Locator Service (PLS)
    We propose to make a technical amendment to this section of the 
regulation to ensure consistency throughout this chapter based on 
proposed amendments to Sec.  303.70. Current Sec.  303.69(c) references 
Sec.  303.70(c); the proposed technical amendment changes the reference 
to Sec.  303.70(d). We propose to amend only Sec.  303.69(c). The 
remainder of Sec.  303.69 is not open for notice and comment and is not 
addressed in this NPRM.
    This section is open to public comment.
Sec. 303.70 Procedures for Submissions to the State Parent Locator 
Service (State PLS) or the Federal Parent Locator Service (Federal 
PLS).
    We propose to amend paragraph (a) of Sec.  303.70 to include a 
provision consistent with the proposed change to Sec.  302.35 to permit 
the release of information for IV-B and IV-E purposes, including 
implementation of the Fostering Connections Act.
    This section is open to public comment.
    Section 303.70 paragraphs (b)-(d) are not open for comment. These 
paragraphs remain unchanged. The effective date of these paragraphs is 
December 30, 2010.
    We propose to amend paragraph (e)(1)(i) of Sec.  303.70 to include 
a provision to permit disclosure of information about children and 
relatives involved in a IV-B or IV-E case in order to assist State 
child welfare agencies in carrying out their program responsibilities 
to locate relatives for potential placement of a child removed from 
parental custody, to place siblings in groups, and to otherwise assist 
State agencies in their permanency planning responsibilities under the 
authority of section 453 of the Act consistent with the proposed 
changes to Sec. Sec.  303.35 and 303.70(a).
    This section is open to public comment.

[[Page 32152]]

    Because section 303.70(e)(2) of the rule refers to ``agent of a 
child'' and also refers to Sec.  302.35, in which changes were 
proposed, this section is open for comment. The remainder of this 
section is not open for comment.

Part 307

Sec. 307.13 Security and Confidentiality for Computerized Support 
Enforcement Systems in Operation After October 1, 1997
    Part 307 of the rule addresses computerized system data integrity 
and security. Computerized child support enforcement systems are 
required to have safeguards protecting the integrity, accuracy, 
completeness of, access to, and use of information in the computerized 
support enforcement system. Section Sec.  307.13 is not opened in its 
entirety for comment. We are proposing a change to Sec.  307.13(a)(3), 
(4)(iii) and (iv). These sections are open to public comment. The 
remainder of Sec.  307.13 is not opened for comment.
    We propose to amend Sec.  307.13(a)(3) to include a provision 
consistent with the proposed change to Sec.  303.21 permitting the 
release of information to State agencies administering SNAP.
    As mentioned earlier in the preamble, this proposed regulation 
addresses release of information to IV-B and IV-E agencies to locate 
parents, children and relatives of children and other disclosures 
needed to carry out their program responsibilities. For these reasons 
we propose at Sec.  307.13(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) that NDNH and FCR 
information may be disclosed without independent verification to title 
IV-B and IV-E agencies to locate parents and putative fathers for the 
purpose of establishing parentage or establishing parental rights with 
respect to a child and that disclosure be allowed without independent 
verification to title IV-D, IV-A, IV-B and IV-E agencies for the 
purpose of assisting States to carry out their responsibilities to 
administer title IV-D, IV-A, IV-B and IV-E programs.
    For clarity, the following appendices lay out the type of 
information that can be shared. The charts reflect the information as 
written in the NPRM. Appendix A addresses information available to 
locate individuals through the State PLS. Appendix B addresses 
information available to locate an individual sought in a child 
custody/visitation or parental kidnapping case. Appendix C provides the 
authorities for State IV-D agencies to release information to title IV, 
XIX, XXI, SNAP and other specified programs.

                                          Appendix A--Locating Individuals Through the State PLS Sec.   302.35
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Persons about whom
     Authorized person/program        Authorized purpose of    information may be       Sources searched          Authorized           Limitations\1\
                                           the request                asked                                  information returned
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Agent/attorney of a State who has    Establish paternity;    Noncustodial Parent;    Federal Parent         Six Elements:          See footnote.
 the duty or authority to collect     establish, set the      Putative Father;        Locator Service; In-   Person's Name,
 child and spousal support under      amount, modify, or      Custodial Parent;       state sources in       Person's SSN,
 the IV-D plan; Section 453(c)(1).    enforce child support   Child; Section          accordance with        Person's address,
                                      obligations and/or to   453(a)(2)(A).           State law.             Employer's name,
                                      facilitate the                                                         Employer's address,
                                      location of any                                                        Employer
                                      individual who is                                                      Identification
                                      under an obligation                                                    Number; Section
                                      to pay child support,                                                  453(a)(2)(A)(iii).
                                      against whom such an                                                  Wages, income, and
                                      obligation is sought,                                                  benefits of
                                      or to whom such an                                                     employment,
                                      obligation is owed.                                                    including health
                                     Locate a parent or                                                      care coverage;
                                      child involved in a                                                    Section
                                      non-IV-D child                                                         453(a)(2)(B)..
                                      support case to                                                       Type, status,
                                      disburse an income                                                     location, and amount
                                      withholding                                                            of assets or debts
                                      collection; Section                                                    owed by or to the
                                      453(a)(2)..                                                            individual; Section
                                                                                                             453(a)(2)(C).
Court that has the authority to      To facilitate the       Noncustodial Parent;    Federal Parent         Six Elements as        No Internal Revenue
 issue an order against an NCP for    location of any         Custodial Parent;       Locator Service; In-   above, plus: Wages,    Service (IRS)
 the support and maintenance of       individual who is       Putative Father;        state sources in       income, and benefits   information provided
 child, or to serve as the            under an obligation     Child.                  accordance with        of employment,         for non-IV-D cases
 initiating court in an action to     to pay child support,                           State law.             including health       unless independently
 seek a child support order;          against whom such an                                                   care coverage;         verified.
 Section 453(c)(2).                   obligation is sought,                                                  Section 453(a)(2)(B). No Multistate
                                      or to whom such an                                                    Type, status,           Financial
                                      obligation is owed.                                                    location, and amount   Institution Data
                                     Locate a parent or                                                      of assets or debts     Match (MSFIDM) and
                                      child involved in a                                                    owed by or to the      no State Financial
                                      non-IV-D child                                                         individual; Section    Institution Data
                                      support case..                                                         453(a)(2)(C).          Match (FIDM)
                                                                                                                                    information provided
                                                                                                                                    for non-IV-D cases.
                                                                                                                                   No required
                                                                                                                                    subsequent attempts
                                                                                                                                    to locate unless
                                                                                                                                    there is a new
                                                                                                                                    request.

[[Page 32153]]

 
Resident parent, legal guardian,     To facilitate the       Noncustodial Parent;    Federal Parent         Six Elements as        Child not receiving
 attorney, or agent of a child not    location of any         Putative Father.        Locator Service; In-   above, plus: Wages,    IV-A benefits.
 receiving IV-A benefits (a non-IV-   individual who is                               state sources in       income, and benefits  No IRS Information.
 D request); Section 453(c)(3) \2\.   under an obligation                             accordance with        of employment,        No MSFIDM and no
                                      to pay child support,                           State law.             including health       State FIDM
                                      against whom such an                                                   care coverage;         information provided
                                      obligation is sought,                                                  Section 453(a)(2)(B).  for non-IV-D cases.
                                      or to whom such an                                                    Type, status,          In a non-IV-D
                                      obligation is owed,                                                    location, and amount   request, attestation
                                      or who has or may                                                      of assets or debts     and evidence is
                                      have parental rights                                                   owed by or to the      required as
                                      with respect to the                                                    individual; Section    specified in Sec.
                                      child.                                                                 453(a)(2)(C)..         302.35(c)(3)(i)-(iii
                                     Locate a parent or                                                                             ).
                                      child involved in a                                                                          No required
                                      non-IV-D child                                                                                subsequent attempts
                                      support case..                                                                                to locate unless
                                                                                                                                    there is a new
                                                                                                                                    request.
State agency that is administering   To facilitate the       Noncustodial Parent;    Federal Parent         Six Elements as        No IRS information
 a Child and Family Services          location of any         Putative Father;        Locator Service; In-   above, plus: Wages,    unless independently
 program (IV-B) or a Foster Care      individual who has or   Custodial Parent        state sources in       income, and benefits   verified.
 and Adoption IV-E program;           may have parental       Child; Sections         accordance with        of employment,        No MSFIDM information
 Sections 453(c)(4), 453(j)(3), and   rights with respect     453(a)(2)(A),           State law.             including health       and no State FIDM
 454(8).                              to the child, Section   453(j)(3), and 454(8).                         care coverage.         information
                                      453(a)(2)(iv); and to                                                 Type, status,           provided.
                                      assist states in                                                       location, and amount
                                      carrying out their                                                     of assets or debts
                                      responsibilities                                                       owed by or to the
                                      under title IV-B and                                                   individual; Section
                                      IV-E programs;                                                         453(a)(2)(C)..
                                      Sections 453(j)(3)
                                      and 454(8).
State agency that is administering   To assist states in     Relatives of a child    Federal Parent         Six Elements as above  No IRS information
 a Child and Family Services          carrying out their      involved in a IV-B or   Locator Service; In-                          unless independently
 program (IV-B) or a Foster Care      responsibilities        IV-E case.              state sour