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Texas child support system undergoing pricey overhaul

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is in the running to succeed Gov. Perry when his term is over, is working to overhaul our state's child support system. Last year, Texas collected $3.6 billion in child support payments -- more than any other state. Abbott boasted that under his tenure, which began in 2003, Texas has developed the "most efficient and effective child support system in the country."

However, Abbott wants to do more. His "T2" initiative is designed to improve the technology used to collect support from recalcitrant parents by making it more automated and streamlined. The finish date is scheduled for 2017. In that year, the number of support cases is expected to increase significantly, although it was not reported why that is.

However, the project is reportedly seriously overbudget and behind schedule. There are also reports of mismanagement and quality control issues. Some of these concerns have been voiced by faculty at the University of Texas at Austin who have been reviewing the project.

People working for Abbott and those with the Office of Child Support Enforcement say otherwise. The federal agency is paying for two-thirds of the cost of the overhaul, which is now reportedly at $274 million. The AG's office says that T2 is set to finish early now that Accenture LLP, its leading contractor, has been given some $30 million more and increased responsibility. Accenture is also the company brought in by the federal government at the beginning of the year to work on the beleaguered Healthcare.gov website.

Abbott's reputation is on the line. He has promised to create a more streamlined, efficient state government if he wins the gubernatorial race this November. With a key project reportedly more than $64 million over its original price tag, that may prove a challenge.

A technological revamp of any organization -- particularly a government entity -- is never easy. Stories like this are common. However, the project is still good news for Texas parents who rely on child support payments to care for their children. While no one wants to have to depend on the government to collect the money owed to them, it is sometimes necessary. Texas family law attorneys can help parents determine the best course of action for their situation.

Source: Enquirer-Herald, "Costs on Abbott's biggest project as AG rise $64M" Paul J. Weber, The Associated Press, May. 18, 2014

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