Checks (not) in the mail : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Check's (not) in the mail

The Friend of the Court scrambles as computer glitches delay child support checks.

Thursday, November 4, 1999


A changeover to a new computer system has thousands of child support recipients in Saginaw County playing a waiting game for checks they depend upon to pay the bills.

"We're printing as fast as we can," said Bonnie W. Prestin, Saginaw County Friend of the Court director.

The agency has fallen about six working days behind in distributing court-ordered child support payments, Prestin said.

The office enforces court orders for child support, collects payments from non-custodial parents and distributes the money to families. It collects more than $32 million annually in support payments in

Saginaw County.

"It's hard when people don't get their checks - sometimes it can be a disaster," she said. "It's a horrible thing."

The trouble started about three weeks ago, when the county office shut off its computer to switch to a federally mandated statewide system.

The two-day shutdown caused some delays in getting the checks out, but the bigger problem was the new system's lower capacity for accomplishing the task.

Previously, Friend of the Court workers averaged about 1,000 check mailings per day. The replacement system average so far is about 550 per day, Prestin said.

Computer glitches, teaching workers to use the program and added bureaucratic requirements have slowed the process, she said.

State officials have assured Sag inaw County Chief Circuit Judge Leopold P. Borrello that conversion problems are temporary.

"The state is committed to our partnership with Saginaw in implementing (the system) and ensuring good service to those who rely on child support payments," said Douglas Howard, director of the state Family Independence Agency, which oversees Friend of the Court operations.

Last week, an unrelated computer problem forced officials to stop writing checks for 11/2 days.

Agency employees are working overtime to catch up. The state is picking up the overtime tab, Prestin said.

Meanwhile, Prestin estimated that about 4,000 families haven't received regularly scheduled checks.

"They're coming," she said. "They're late, but they're coming."

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 05, 1999


" ... bigger problem was the new system's lower capacity for accomplishing the task."

Progress, eh? So many reports of new systems gumming the works, slowing/stopping the checks, disgruntled employees, learning curves, dislike of new systems, recipients not receiving, ripple effects.

Keep the actual news coming, Homer, thanks.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, November 05, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ