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HHS/ACF RIN: 0970-AC86 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: Paternity Establishment Percentage Performance Relief 
Abstract:

This regulation proposes to modify the Paternity Establishment Percentage performance requirements in child support regulations under 45 CFR part 305, to provide relief from financial penalties to states impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 45 CFR 305   
Legal Authority: sec. 1102 of the Social Security Act   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a debilitating effect on state child support programs, disrupting administrative and judicial operations and limiting states’ ability to provide services and maintain performance. Without regulatory relief, 20 out of the 54 child support programs (title IV-D under the Act) will be subject to financial penalties associated with their failure to achieve performance for the Paternity Establishment Percentage (PEP) described in section 409(a)(8) and 452(g) of the Social Security Act (the Act) and child support regulations under 45 CFR part 305. PEP-related financial penalties, which are imposed as reductions in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program funding, place an undue burden on state budgets and threaten funding that supports the very families who are most in need during this time of crisis.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

This proposed rule is published under the authority granted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services by section 1102 of the Social Security Act (the Act) (42 U.S.C. 1302). Section 1102 of the Act authorizes the Secretary to publish regulations, not inconsistent with the Act, as may be necessary for the efficient administration of the functions with which the Secretary is responsible under the Act. The proposed relief from the Paternity Establishment Percentage performance penalty under this NPRM is based on statutory authority granted under section 452(g)(3)(A) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 652(g)(3)(A)).

Alternatives:

Because PEP performance measures and penalties are required by statute and regulation, relief can only be provided through regulation or legislation. The PEP performance requirement is established under 452(g) of the Social Security Act and 45 CFR 305.40. Section 452(a)(4)(C)(i) of the Act requires the Secretary to determine whether State-reported data used to determine the performance levels are complete and reliable. Additionally, section 409(a)(8)(A) of the Act and 45 CFR 305.61(a)(1) provides for a financial penalty if there is a failure to achieve the required level of performance or an audit determines that the data is incomplete or unreliable.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

This proposed rule, if finalized, will ensure that penalties are not imposed against a state’s TANF grant, during a time when public assistance funds are critically needed. The financial penalties against states are estimated at $3.5 million of penalties for 3 states that did not meet PEP performance levels in FY 2019 and FY 2020 and $83 million for 18 states that did not meet performance levels in FY 2020 and FY 2021 PEP.

Risks:

To be determined.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  10/19/2021  86 FR 57770   
NPRM Comment Period End  11/18/2021 
Final Action  10/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Yvette Riddick
Director, Division of Policy, Office of Child Support Enforcement
Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
330 C Street SW,
Washington, DC 20201
Phone:202 401-4885
Email: yvette.riddick@acf.hhs.gov