June 14, 2002

Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services


Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities 
     Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Section Chiefs/Licensing Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators


Susan N. Dreyfus


Random Moment Time Study - Personnel Updates

What Is The RMTS:

The Random Moment Time Study (RMTS) is a federally approved statistical sampling technique, which is implemented through phone interviews to applicable staff from a Madison central office. The RMTS was created to satisfy federal requirements that the state is documenting its federal claims for certain kinds of social service administrative monies. The Departmentís Federal claim is based on using a statistical survey to accurately determine proportions of service worker time spent providing certain classifications of service to particular groups of clients. The higher the percentages, the greater the cash value of the claim.

The RMTS is administered by the Bureau of Fiscal Services in the Division of Management and Technology with support from other state agencies. All social workers and social services aides currently working for all the 72 counties and for the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) are on a special sample list. Each quarter, a computer program generates a sample of names randomly drawn from a listing generated by the Local Personnel Master File (LPMF). The program also assigns a randomly drawn "moment in time" for the RMTS interviewer to call the employee. Because of the random sample technique, some social workers may not receive a call for several quarters at a time, while others may be picked two or more times in a given year.

For the sample to be scientifically valid, the phone interviewer must keep on calling back and get a response from the selected worker about the original time. If large numbers of persons are not interviewed or cannot reconstruct their activities, the validity of the sample will be damaged.

What Is Asked In The Phone Interview:

The interviewer asks two kinds of information. The first kind is the essential data on the work being performed. This information is used to determine the amount of Federal funds the state can claim from the Federal Government on behalf of all the counties and the BMCW. For obvious reasons the interviewer will not specify what is claimable information and what is not, since this would distort the results of the survey and make the federal auditors question the validity of the claims.

The essential data is divided into four kinds of information:

  • What activity was being performed just before the call was made;

  • What kind of target population was being served by this activity;

  • What specific program or service category was the main element being dealt with by the worker at that particular moment;

  • If substitute care is involved, further questions may be asked to determine which substitute care activity was worked on.

Secondly, the interviewer also needs information about the primary client. (The primary client is the oldest child if a child is involved.)

Why Is The Clientís Identity Required And Is There A Confidentiality Problem:

The phone interviewer asks only the clientís name, birthdate, sex, and county/BMCW case number. This personal identification is needed because the Federal Government audits a percentage of the RMTS phone interviews to ensure that Wisconsin is not distorting the interview data to inappropriately claim federal funds. The personal identification data is kept in a locked file, and will only be seen or used by authorized federal or state officials. The files are destroyed after four years by shredding. Most importantly, the personal information is not entered onto the computer tape of the coded replies of the workers who are interviewed.

Worker Cooperation Is Needed For The RMTS To Succeed:

After the initial interview with a worker where the RMTS process will be explained, subsequent interviews should never take more than a minute or two. Some replies, such as being on sick leave or vacation, automatically exclude that phone interview from the survey analysis. The smaller the final sample of phone calls each three-month period, the weaker the validity of the stateís claim for federal funds. The RMTS needs worker cooperation.

The RMTS survey results will not be used for supervisory evaluations or activities since worker replies will never be shared with the County or the BMCW. Each interview becomes part of a total number and percent used to make the claim for federal reimbursement each quarter.

The following Bureau of Fiscal Services staff will be conducting the interviews: Sarah Cannon as lead worker with back up by Cheryl Williams and Sue Baraga. If you have any questions, please contact Sarah at (608) 266-8147 or Sally at (608) 266-9576. The cooperation of all staff in the survey process will ensure appropriate claiming of federal funds for the benefit of Wisconsin human services.

Thank you.


Area Administrator


Sarah Cannon
Bureau of Fiscal Services
Division of Management & Technology
(608) 266-8147

Sally A. Acuff
Bureau of Fiscal Services
Division of Management & Technology
(608) 266-9576


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.