(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature finds that the clerks of court play a vital role, as essential participants in the establishment, modification, collection, and enforcement of child support, in securing the health, safety, and welfare of the children of this state. The Legislature further finds and declares that:
(a) It is in the state’s best interest to preserve the essential role of the clerks of court in disbursing child support payments and maintaining official records of child support orders entered by the courts of this state.
(b) As official recordkeeper for matters relating to court-ordered child support, the clerks of court are necessary parties to obtaining, safeguarding, and providing child support payment and support order information.
(c) As provided by the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the state must establish and operate a State Case Registry in full compliance with federal law by October 1, 1998, and a State Disbursement Unit by October 1, 1999.
(d) Noncompliance with federal law could result in a substantial loss of federal funds for the state’s child support enforcement program and the temporary assistance for needy families welfare block grant.
(e) The potential loss of substantial federal funds poses a direct and immediate threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the children and citizens of the state and constitutes an emergency for purposes of s. 287.057(3)(a).
(f) The clerks of court maintain the official payment record of the court for amounts received, payments credited, arrearages owed, liens attached, and current mailing addresses of all parties, payor, obligor, and payee.
(g) The clerks of court have established a statewide Clerk of Court Child Support Enforcement Collection System for the automation of all payment processing using state and local government funds as provided under s. 61.181(2)(b)1.
(h) The Legislature acknowledges the improvements made by and the crucial role of the Clerk of the Court Child Support Enforcement Collection System in speeding payments to the children of Florida.
(i) There is no viable alternative to continuing the role of the clerks of court in collecting, safeguarding, and providing essential child support payment information.
For these reasons, the Legislature hereby directs the Department of Revenue, subject to the provisions of subsection (5), to contract with the Florida Association of Court Clerks and each depository to perform duties with respect to the operation and maintenance of a State Disbursement Unit and the non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry as further provided by this section.
(2) COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS.—Each depository shall enter into a standard cooperative agreement with the department for participation in the State Disbursement Unit and the non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry through the Clerk of Court Child Support Enforcement Collection System within 60 days after the effective date of this section. The cooperative agreement shall be a uniform document, mutually developed by the department and the Florida Association of Court Clerks, that applies to all depositories and complies with all state and federal requirements. Each depository shall also enter into a written agreement with the Florida Association of Court Clerks and the department within 60 days after the effective date of this section that requires each depository to participate fully in the State Disbursement Unit and the non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry.
(3) CONTRACT.—The Florida Association of Court Clerks shall enter into a written contract with the department that fully complies with all federal and state laws within 60 days after the effective date of this section. The contract shall be mutually developed by the department and the Florida Association of Court Clerks. As required by s. 287.057 and 45 C.F.R. s. 74.43, any subcontracts entered into by the Florida Association of Court Clerks, except for a contract between the Florida Association of Court Clerks and its totally owned subsidiary corporation, must be procured through competitive bidding. (4) COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT AND CONTRACT TERMS.—The contract between the Florida Association of Court Clerks and the department, and cooperative agreements entered into by the depositories and the department, must contain, but are not limited to, the following terms:
(a) The initial term of the contract and cooperative agreements is for 5 years. The subsequent term of the contract and cooperative agreements is for 3 years, with the option of two 1-year renewal periods, at the sole discretion of the department.
(b) The duties and responsibilities of the Florida Association of Court Clerks, the depositories, and the department.
(c) Under s. 287.058(1)(a), all providers and subcontractors shall submit to the department directly, or through the Florida Association of Court Clerks, a report of monthly expenditures in a format prescribed by the department and in sufficient detail for a proper preaudit and postaudit thereof.
(d) All providers and subcontractors shall submit to the department directly, or through the Florida Association of Court Clerks, management reports in a format prescribed by the department.
(e) All subcontractors shall comply with chapter 280, as may be required.
(f) Federal financial participation for eligible Title IV-D expenditures incurred by the Florida Association of Court Clerks and the depositories shall be at the maximum level permitted by federal law for expenditures incurred for the provision of services in support of child support enforcement in accordance with 45 C.F.R. part 74 and Federal Office of Management and Budget Circulars A-87 and A-122 and based on an annual cost allocation study of each depository. The depositories shall submit directly, or through the Florida Association of Court Clerks, claims for Title IV-D expenditures monthly to the department in a standardized format as prescribed by the department. The Florida Association of Court Clerks shall contract with a certified public accounting firm, selected by the Florida Association of Court Clerks and the department, to audit and certify quarterly to the department all claims for expenditures submitted by the depositories for Title IV-D reimbursement.
(g) Upon termination of the contracts between the department and the Florida Association of Court Clerks or the depositories, the Florida Association of Court Clerks, its agents, and the depositories shall assist the department in making an orderly transition to a private vendor.
(h) Interest on late payment by the department shall be in accordance with s. 215.422.
If either the department or the Florida Association of Court Clerks objects to a term of the standard cooperative agreement or contract specified in subsections (2) and (3), the disputed term or terms shall be presented jointly by the parties to the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s designee, who shall act as special magistrate. The special magistrate shall resolve the dispute in writing within 10 days. The resolution of a dispute by the special magistrate is binding on the department and the Florida Association of Court Clerks.
(5) CONTRACT TERMINATION.—If any of the following events occur, the department may discontinue its plans to contract, or terminate its contract, with the Florida Association of Court Clerks and the depositories upon 30 days’ written notice by the department and may, through competitive bidding, procure services from a private vendor to perform functions necessary for the department to operate the State Disbursement Unit and the non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry with a minimum amount of disruption in service to the children and citizens of the state:
(a) Receipt by the department of final notice by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services or the secretary’s designee that the contractual arrangement between the department, the Florida Association of Court Clerks, and the depositories does not satisfy federal requirements for a State Disbursement Unit or a State Case Registry and that the state’s Title IV-D State Plan will not be approved, or that federal Title IV-D funding is not made available to fund the non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry or the State Disbursement Unit;
(b) The Florida Association of Court Clerks, a depository, or any subcontractor fails to comply with any material contractual term or state or federal requirement;
(c) The non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry is not established and operational, consistent with the terms of the contract, by October 1, 1998; or
(d) The State Disbursement Unit is not established and operational, consistent with the terms of the contract, by October 1, 1999.
If either event specified in paragraph (a) occurs, the depositories are relieved of all responsibilities and duties under this chapter relating to Title IV-D payment processing and data transmission to the department.
(6) PARTICIPATION BY DEPOSITORIES.—
(a) Each depository shall participate in the non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry by using an automated system compatible with the department’s automated child support enforcement system.
(b) For participation in the State Disbursement Unit, each depository shall:
1. Use the CLERC System;
2. Receive electronically and record payment information from the State Disbursement Unit for each support order entered by the court.
(7) TITLE IV-D PROGRAM INCOME.—Pursuant to 45 C.F.R. s. 304.50, all transaction fees and interest income realized by the State Disbursement Unit constitute and must be reported as program income under federal law and must be transmitted to the Title IV-D agency for deposit in the Child Support Enforcement Application and Program Revenue Trust Fund.
(8) PENALTIES.—All depositories must participate in the State Disbursement Unit and the non-Title IV-D component of the State Case Registry as provided in this chapter. If, after notice and an opportunity to cure an otherwise curable default, a depository fails to comply with the material terms of the cooperative agreement, the failure to comply subjects the county officer or officers responsible for the depository to the sanctions provided in Art. IV of the State Constitution. However, no county officer or officers shall be subject to sanctions under Art. IV of the State Constitution for any noncurable default resulting from circumstances or conditions outside the control of the depository.
(9) WITHHOLDING PAYMENT UNDER CONTRACTS.—If the Florida Association of Court Clerks, its agent, a subcontractor, or a depository does not comply with any material contractual term or state or federal requirement, the department may withhold funds otherwise due under the individual contract with the Florida Association of Court Clerks or the individual cooperative agreement with the depository, or both, at the department’s election, to enforce compliance. The department shall provide written notice of noncompliance before withholding funds. Within 10 business days after receipt of written notification of noncompliance, the department must be provided with a written proposed corrective action plan. Within 10 business days after receipt of a corrective action plan, the department shall accept the plan or allow 5 business days within which a revised plan may be submitted. Upon the department’s acceptance of a corrective action plan, the agreed-upon plan must be fully completed within 30 business days unless a longer period is permitted by the department. If a proposed corrective action plan is not submitted, is not accepted, or is not fully completed, any funds withheld by the department for noncompliance are forfeited to the department. Withholding or forfeiture of funds may be contested by filing a petition or request for a hearing under the applicable provisions of chapter 120. For the purposes of this section, no party to a dispute involving less than $5,000 in withheld or forfeited funds is deemed to be substantially affected by the dispute or to have a substantial interest in the decision resolving the dispute.