District of Columbia: More Details Needed on Plans to Integrate Computer Systems With the Family Court and Use Federal Funds Page: 4 of 33
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and (2) analyze the Mayor's plan for using the $500,000 in appropriated
funds for CFSA social workers to implement family court reform. To
achieve these objectives within the required timeframe, we limited our
work to a review of the plan and interviews with court officials in the
District and court officials from two other states, New Jersey and Virginia,
which have undertaken efforts to integrate computer systems of courts
with social services. We also interviewed officials from several key
District agencies, including the Mayor's office; CFSA; the Departments of
Human Services, Mental Health, and Health; the Office of Corporation
Counsel; and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. In addition, we
examined documents related to the policies and practices of several
District social service agencies. To supplement our analysis of the plan, we
obtained comments on the Mayor's plan from officials of the American Bar
Association and the Virginia Supreme Court's court improvement program.
We conducted our work from May through July 2002 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards.
Results in Brief
The Mayor's plan provides useful information on the District's integration
efforts with the Family Court, but the effectiveness of the plan is
contingent on resolving several critical issues. The plan includes such
useful information as (1) an outline of the District's current health and
human services information technology (IT) environment and its
information needs and limitations regarding the Family Court, (2) planned
and possible short- and long-term initiatives to integrate the District's
computer systems with those of the Family Court, (3) five technological
integration priorities, and (4) how the $200,000 in appropriated funds will
be spent. However, the plan does not contain important elements that,
while not explicitly required by the Family Court Act or the fiscal year
2002 D.C. Appropriations Act, would enhance the usefulness of the plan.
For example, the plan does not include project milestones for achieving
the five integration priorities. Moreover, the District has not yet completed
essential analyses, such as a requirements analysis, that would provide the
basis for this additional information. Furthermore, many of the solutions
to achieving integration with the Family Court discussed in the plan are
depicted only as proposals or options; thus, the plan is not always
definitive about exactly how it will achieve the five integration priorities.
In addition, the effectiveness of the plan will hinge in large part on the
District's ability to overcome significant hurdles, including ensuring the
appropriate confidentiality of electronic records and the quality of data
exchanged with the Family Court. Although the Mayor's plan discusses
these issues, it does not always provide solutions or discuss how such
solutions will be found. Another essential factor that will determine the
GAO-02-948 District of Columbia
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United States. General Accounting Office. District of Columbia: More Details Needed on Plans to Integrate Computer Systems With the Family Court and Use Federal Funds, report, August 7, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc291759/m1/4/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.