Court Services - CIP Technical Support

Frequently Asked Questions 

Compliance and Penalties

  1. Local Government Code, Section 133.058(e) states:

    "A municipality or county may not retain a service fee if, during an audit under Article 103.0033(j), Code of Criminal Procedure, the Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System determines that the municipality or county is not in compliance with Article 103.0033, Code of Criminal Procedure, and is unable to reestablish compliance on or before the 180th day after the date the municipality or county receives written notice of noncompliance from the office. After any period in which the municipality or county becomes unable to retain a service fee under this section, the municipality or county may begin once more to retain the fee only on receipt of a written confirmation from the office that the municipality or county is in compliance with Article 103.0033, Code of Criminal Procedure.."

    Local Government Code, Section 133.103(c-1):

    "The treasurer shall send to the comptroller 100 percent of the fees collected under this section if, during an audit under Article 103.0033(j), Code of Criminal Procedure, the Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial System determines that the municipality or county is not in compliance with Article 103.0033, Code of Criminal Procedure, and is unable to reestablish compliance on or before the 180th day after the date the municipality or county receives written notice of noncompliance from the office. After any period in which the treasurer is required under this subsection to send 100 percent of the fees collected under this section to the comptroller, the municipality or county shall begin once more to dispose of fees as otherwise provided by this section on receipt of a written confirmation from the office that the municipality or county is in compliance with Article 103.0033, Code of Criminal Procedure."

  2. The Collections Improvement Program Audit Section of the Office of Court Administration (OCA) makes this determination via periodic audits to verify compliance with the Collection Improvement Program requirements.

  3. For the pre-program collection rate, the CIP auditor will select cases from 4 to 16 months prior to the implementation date of the mandatory Collection Improvement Program.  A sampling of cases will be taken from each court that handles criminal cases, and the activities, payments, and credits will be captured in the first 120 days after the date of deferral or conviction.  For the post-program collection rate, cases will be selected from the time period subsequent to the implementation date of the mandatory Collection Improvement Program and the same methodology will be applied for the calculation.

  4. No. The calculations of the pre- and post-program collection rates have no bearing in determining whether a county or municipality is in compliance with the Collection Improvement Program requirements.  The collection rates are simply a tool to measure the effectiveness of a mandatory program. 

    The CIP auditors will conduct a compliance review of mandatory programs to determine whether a county or municipality is conforming to the Collection Improvement Program requirements.

  5. Yes. While “extensions” were always included in the Collection Improvement Program, the Rules were not specifically clear with this terminology. The Rules have been updated to include “extensions.”

  6. In computing any period of time under the Collection Improvement Program Rules, when the last day of the period falls on a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday, or other day on which the office is not open for business, then the period runs until the end of the next day on which the office is open for business. (1TAC, §175.3(a))

    • One Month: One month is from the day of the month until the close of business the same day of the next month.  The number of days will vary based on the month.  Example: February 1 to March 1 is considered one month and will have fewer days than March 1 to April 1. 
    • Days:  The number of days that is allowed for a component is added to the comparison date and will include weekends and holidays within the number of days. 

    Example: For the verification component the number of days is five days from the date of application. Assuming no holidays, the below table illustrates the five day deadline for accomplishing the verification component.

     Application Day

     5 Days from Application Day

     Verification done by close  of business*

     Monday

     Saturday

     Monday

     Tuesday

     Sunday

     Monday

     Wednesday

     Monday

     Monday

     Thursday

     Tuesday

     Tuesday

     Friday

     Wednesday

     Wednesday

    * Should this day be a holiday, the deadline would be extended until the close of business the next day the court is open.

Waiver

  1. Pursuant to 1TAC §175.7(b), OCA may grant a blanket waiver from implementation when the requesting entity demonstrates that: 

    1. the estimated costs of implementing the program are greater than the estimated additional revenue that would be generated by implementing the program; and
    2. a compelling reason exists for submitting the waiver request after the entity’s published implementation deadline.  The requesting entity and OCA program staff each must submit documentation supporting their cost and revenue projections to the administrative director for determination.
  2. OCA does not have authority to grant a waiver for a specific component of the Collection Improvement Program.  The statutory language concerning a waiver speaks to a waiver permitting a county or municipality to decline to implement a Collection Improvement Program in its entirety.  However, to provide more flexibility in the implementation of the program, the Texas Administrative Code, 1TAC, §175.7(c) provides for Temporary Waivers:

    OCA will consider a request to grant a temporary waiver for good cause that could not have been reasonably anticipated.  Such temporary waivers may be granted after an audit to allow a program to correct deficiencies discovered during the audit.

Programs & Program Structure

  1. At the state level, the OCA Collection Improvement Program Technical Support staff is responsible for providing technical assistance, training and consultation for the affected cities and counties to develop and implement these collection programs. This group is separate and independent from the OCA Collection Improvement Program Audit Department.

  2. All criminal courts in the affected cities and counties are required to participate to achieve compliance. However, there are exceptions including Teen and Juvenile Courts. Additionally, in order to allow greater flexibility the Texas Administrative Code, 1TAC, §175.5(c) provides for 90 percent participation of all county criminal courts or one court exemption. Full participation of municipal courts is required as they are all considered a single court.

  3. This is a very important and sometimes difficult issue in virtually every jurisdiction. We expect each locality to determine under which office and/or branch of government the collection program will most appropriately operate, and we will be satisfied as long as the operation complies with the Collection Improvement Program requirements and all applicable statutes for the collection of court costs, fees, and fines.

  4. No. Although this approach may enhance efficiency, it is sometimes not feasible given the variety of stakeholders involved. County government is free to develop and determine a program approach that best serves its individual requirements as long as the operation complies with the Collection Improvement Program requirements and all applicable statutes for the collection of court costs, fees, and fines. Cities and municipal courts are more likely to easily lend themselves to a centralized approach.

  5. Yes.  Our experience has shown that it is fundamental to have at least one local staff person whose priority job function is collection activities.  Further staffing of a collection office may be accomplished by partial positions. Texas Administrative Code, 1TAC, §175.3(b) provides:

    "Components for Local Program Operations.

    1. Dedicated Program Staff.  Each local program must designate at least one employee whose job description contains an essential job function of collection activities.  The collection job function may be concentrated in one individual employee or distributed among two or more employees.  The collection function need not require 40 hours per week of an employee’s time, but must be a priority.”
  6. No.  Article 103.0033, Code of Criminal Procedure has two components.  The first component requires specific “in-house” management of current cases as outlined by the OCA. The second component requires strict management of delinquent cases which may include contracting with an outside vendor.

  7. Yes.  Contact us and we will be happy to assist you with making the appropriate connection and arrangements.

  8. OCA will review any process including automated processes for compliance with CIP requirements. Any process that meets the documented requirements of the CIP is acceptable.

CSCD

  1. Local Government Code, Chapter 133, provides that the county treasurer is responsible for reporting and remitting the court costs and fees due by the county to the Comptroller, regardless of who collects them.  While the CSCD may collect court costs, fees and fines, the county is still ultimately responsible for the reporting and remittance to the Comptroller.  In addition, none of the components required for compliance conflict with the broad range of statutorily provided judicial authority.  Based on this, it is our opinion that a CSCD which serves a county required to implement a program pursuant to Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 103.0033, is not exempt from the requirements of the Collection Improvement Program when the CSCD collects court costs, fees, and fines imposed by a court. 

  2. No. The Collection Improvement Program requirements do not apply to the collection of victim restitution or supervision and related fees collected by the CSCD.

  3. For CSCD cases that were adjudicated prior to the mandatory implementation date of the Collection Improvement Program, the CSCD may continue to use existing collection procedures. Cases adjudicated after the mandatory implementation date must be handled according to the Collection Improvement Program requirements.

Annual Reporting (AFI)

  1. No.  You should estimate the costs to run the Collection Improvement Program (CIP) which excludes civil collections. Please also exclude the cashiering function. Some of their time may be counted if they, for example, take applications or do other functions related to the CIP but not if all they do is receipt money.

  2. Include:

    1. Salaries for staff associated with the CIP process.  This includes staff time associated with:
      • obtaining the application/contact information,
      • verifying the application/contact information,
      • establishing a payment plan and interviewing the defendant about the payment plan,
      • making phone calls and sending out notices related to collections,
      • monitoring compliance with payment plans or extensions, and
      • reporting CIP data to the OCA and other related CIP tasks.
    2. Fringe benefits for the staff time reported above.  Fringe benefits include:
      • the employers part of social security,
      • health and other insurance paid by the employer, and
      • paid sick leave and vacation time.
    3. Direct operating expenses for the CIP processes.  Include expenses that are reasonably easy to associate with the CIP staff or processes.  Examples are:
      • supplies such as post cards for mail notices,
      • software maintenance for skip tracing, automating phone calls, collection software not related to case management,
      • maintenance of equipment used by the CIP staff, and
      • other recurring costs.

    Exclude:

    1. Salaries for:
      • judges,
      • the cashiering function (Some of their costs may be counted if they, for example, take applications or do other functions related to the CIP but not if all they do is receipt money),
      • staff time associated with the collection of non-CIP monies.  (The CIP includes collection of court costs, fees, and fines for criminal cases.  Staff time associated with the collection of those items listed in the “Other” section of the AFI should not be included),
      • staff that spend less than 5% of their time on the CIP.  (This includes supervisors that do not spend 5% of their time supervising CIP staff)
    2. Start-up costs, including:
      • purchases of PCs, copiers, fax machines or other equipment,
      • purchase of software, and
      • installation of equipment or software.
    3. Indirect costs.  Indirect costs include:
      • office space,
      • costs for other items that cannot easily be separated or assigned to the CIP process.  (An example might be the maintenance cost of a fax machine that is shared by several departments. It probably would be difficult to count the faxes received by each department and break out the costs accordingly. However, if the fax machine were entirely used by the collections department, the maintenance costs could easily be assigned a direct operating expense.)

Effectiveness & Collection Rate

  1. The CIP Audit Section is now responsible for determining, by a review, a jurisdiction’s pre- and post-program collection rate though the Comptroller of Public Accounts were responsible before the change in statute. Affected cities and counties are required to provide relevant collection data to assist in this effort. OCA also conducts “return on expenditure” evaluations which compares the costs of the program to revenues generated by the program to determine cost effectiveness.

  2. The CIP auditors will compute a pre- and a post-mandatory program implementation collection rate for those jurisdictions required to implement the Collection Improvement Program. Neither of these collection rates affects compliance/non-compliance with the Collection Improvement Program. These rates will be used to assist OCA in determining the effectiveness of the Collection Improvement Program. Previously the Comptroller, in conjunction with OCA, determined that it would be reasonable to track collections for 120 days after the assessment of court costs, fees, and fines and compute separate rates for each court level (district, county, justice, and municipal).  OCA has decided to continue this for consistency.   

    Pre/Post Mandatory Implementation Collection Rate

    Amount collected in dollars from assessment date through 120 days from assessment date / (divided by) Amount assessed from assessment date through 120 days from assessment date

    Pre/Post Mandatory Implementation Compliance Rate

    Amount collected in dollars + the dollar value of jail time served + the dollar value of community service performed from assessment date through 120 days from assessment date / (divided by) Amount assessed from assessment date through 120 days from assessment date

     

    Rates are also computed by the Online Collection Data Reporting System once a jurisdiction is entering their monthly collection data. 

    Percent of Assessed

    For each item shown on the Collection Reporting screen indicating a “Percent of Assessed” - The “Percent of Assessed” is computed by dividing the amount in the “Dollar Amount” column for each item by the amount in the “Dollar Amount Assessed” item.

    Percentage Collected

    The “Percentage Collected” is computed for:

    • “0-30 days” - divide the “Dollars Collected” by the “Dollar Amount Assessed” from this month’s report
    • “31-60 days” - divide the “Dollars Collected” by the “Dollar Amount Assessed” from the previous month’s report
    • “61-90 days” - divide the “Dollars Collected” by the “Dollar Amount Assessed” from two months ago report
    • “91-120 days” - divide the “Dollars Collected” by the “Dollar Amount Assessed” from three months ago report

Voluntary Collection Programs

  1. Absolutely, as time and resources permit. A minimum of two court collections training sessions or workshop are conducted annually in each of the five CIP regions.

     

  2. A court or courts in counties and cities that have a population below the required threshold and want to improve their criminal court collections should contact their Regional Collection Specialist and become a voluntary collections program. 

Withdrawing Funds from Inmate Accounts

  1. Once the Order to Withdraw Funds is processed into the TDCJ computer system, there will be an “initial amount” withdrawn from the offender’s Inmate Account and an amount withdrawn every time there is a deposit, if any, to the account. The initial standard withdrawal amount is:

    • 15% of the account balance up to and including $100, plus
    • 25% of any portion of the account balance that is between $100.01 and $500 inclusive, plus
    • 50% of any portion of the account balance that is more than $500.
         

    For example: If the Inmate Account balance is $800.00, the initial withdrawal would be $265.00.

    15% of the first $100 =

    $15.00

    25% of the next $400 =

    $100.00

    50% of the next $300 =

    $150.00

    Total

    $265.00

     

     

     

     

    The standard withdrawal amount for subsequent deposits is 10% of the deposit. 

    Note: TDCJ uses a computer system for this process and currently does not have the programming resources to change the withdrawal percentage.

     

  2. It is suggested that only one (or two) Order to Withdraw Funds which combines the court costs, fees, fines and restitution owed on the multiple separate cases, be issued. (See Sample Withdrawal Order Form C.) 

    [Note: Generally, the cause number for the case with the longest sentence should be used. This cause number will be placed at the top of the Order to Withdraw Funds form. TDCJ will enter this cause number and add an “X” at the end of the cause number to help identify that this cause number is for multiple cases. When the clerk receives a check with that cause number, the clerk will decide how to allocate the amount received to the appropriate case(s) and the item(s) (for example, court costs) within the case(s).]

  3. The check will be sent to the requestor. Information as to where a check should be sent is usually part of the standard Inmate Account Order to Withdraw Funds, as exemplified by the following excerpt from a McLennan County order:
    "On receipt of a copy of this Order, the department (Inmate Account) shall withdraw money from the offender's Inmate Account, hold the same in a separate account, and shall forward said money to the McLennan County District Clerk, P.O. Box 2451, Waco, Texas 76701 . . ."

  4. Yes, TDCJ requires a new Order to Withdraw Funds with the amount of the outstanding balance on the order, along with a certified copy of the original judgment. The outstanding balance will reflect any court costs, fees, fines and restitution payments made while the offender was out of the TDCJ facility. A copy of the original judgment, new Order to Withdraw Funds, and bill of costs showing the original amount owed and credits received must also be sent to the offender. (Note: When an offender is released (paroled) from a TDCJ facility, the withdrawal of funds ceases and is not restarted until the proper documentation are sent to the offender and TDCJ.) (See Sample Forms)

  5. When TDCJ receives a deposit for an offender's Inmate Account that has a withdrawal order(s), 10% is deducted for each order and placed in an escrow account with the remainder of the deposit credited to the offender's Inmate Account. Once a month checks are issued to the clerks from the escrow account and all escrow subaccount balances are zeroed out. If the stop withdrawal email is processed after funds have been deposited in the escrow account, the amount in the escrow account will be included in that month's payment.

    Note: The excess amount must be returned to TDCJ. TDCJ will credit the offender's Inmate Account.

  6. TDCJ uses an automated computer program to place the appropriate percentage of deposits into an escrow account. Therefore, small deposits into the Inmate Account may result in small withdrawals from that account.

  7. No. There is no statute that allows for the withdrawal of funds from an offenders account in the local jail for court costs, fees, and fines.