Pt. 1355, App. C
Appendix C to Part 1355—Electronic Data Transmission Format
All AFCARS data to be sent from State agencies/Indian Tribes to the Department are to be in electronic form. In order to meet this general specification, the Department will offer as much flexibility as possible. Technical assistance will be provided to negotiate a method of transmission best suited to the States' environment.
There will be four semi-annual electronic data transmissions from the States to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The Summary Submission File, one each for Foster Care and Adoption, and the Detail Submission File, one each for Foster Care and Adoption. The Summary File must be transmitted first, followed immediately by the Detail File. See appendix D for Foster Care and Adoption Detail and Summary record layout formats.
There are four methods for electronic data exchange currently operating for other Departmental programs of a similar nature. These methods are: (1) MITRON tape-to-tape transfer, (2) mainframe-to-mainframe data transfer, (3) personal computer (PC) to mainframe data transmission using a data transfer protocol, and (4) a personal computer to personal computer protocol. A general description of these methods is provided below:
1. MITRON, Tape-to-Tape Data Transmission
In order to use the MITRON system, both the sender and receiver must have MITRON equipment (tape drive and main unit) and software. The MITRON system is capable of handling a large volume of data but is limited to one reel of tape per transmission session. (If the data quantity exceeds one tape, a header/trailer record must be placed on each physical tape reel.) These are standard 2400 foot tapes, using standard labels. The tape density is limited to the 1600 bits per inch (bpi) specification.
The ACF has installed a mainframe-to-mainframe data exchange system using the Sterling Software data transfer package called “SUPERTRACS.” This package will allow data exchange between most computer platforms (both mini and mainframe) and the Department's mainframe in a dial-up mode. No additional software is needed by the remote computer site beyond what the Department will supply. This method has proven effective for small to moderate amounts (100 to 5,000 records) of data.
3. Electronic File Transfer Between PC and Mainframe
This method uses the SIMPC software package on the personal computer and the host mainframe. The software will be provided by the Department. This method is best suited for small to moderate (100 to 5,000) records transmissions. The advantages of Electronic File Transfer are the elimination of tapes and associated problems and the advantage of automatic record checking during the transmission session. If a State is currently maintaining the AFCARS data on a personal computer and is unable to download and upload to its mainframe, Electronic File Transfer is an appropriate transmission mechanism.
4. Personal Computer to Personal Computer
This method uses the SIMPC software package on the sending personal computer and the receiving personal computer. The software will be provided by the Department. This method is best suited for small to moderate (100 to 5,000) records transmissions. The advantages of Electronic File Transfer are the elimination of tapes and associated problems and the advantage of automatic record checking during the transmission session. If a State is currently maintaining the AFCARS data on a personal computer, the personal computer to personal computer transfer is an appropriate transmission mechanism.
In conjunction with Departmental staff, State agencies and Indian Tribes should review their resources and select the system that will best suit their data transmission needs. Over time, State agencies and Indian Tribes can change their transmission methods, provided that proper notification is provided.
Regardless of the electronic data transmission methodology selected, certain criteria must be met by the State agencies and Indian Tribes:
(1) Records must be written using ASCII standard character format.
(2) All elements must be comprised of integer (numeric) value(s). Element character length specifications refer to the maximum number of numeric values permitted for that element. See appendix D.
(3) All records must be a fixed length. The Foster Care Detailed Data Elements Record is 150 characters long and the Adoption Detailed Data Elements Record is 72 characters long. The Foster Care Summary Data Elements Record and the Adoption Summary Data Elements Record are each 172 characters long.
(4) All States and Indian Tribes must inform the Department, in writing, of the method of transfer they intend to use.
[58 FR 67931, Dec. 22, 1993; 59 FR 42520, Aug. 18, 1994, as amended at 60 FR 40507, Aug. 9, 1995]