THE DISTRICT government is well ahead of Virginia and Maryland in computerizing its various records. District welfare workers currently have direct computer access to the city's unemployment and wage files, motor vehicle license and registration records and D.C. public school enrollment records, according to James Butts, head of the District government's Income Maintenance Administration. Butts said the District is completing work on a proposed Automated Client Data Eligibility Detection System, which will give social workers access to a still undetermined number of other District records.

Welfare workers in some of Maryland's 23 jurisdictions have computer access to some local records, says Wanda Dobson, a public information officer for the Department of Human Resources, but there is only one statewide computer system, called AIMS, short for Automated Information Management System. It contains information that clients provide about themselves.

Virginia's welfare offices don't have direct computer access to any state records either, but they are developing a statewide system.

The federal government can't require states to computerize their records and the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 doesn't specifically require states to use computers to perform record checks. But federal agencies have written their guidelines so stringently that it will be expensive and difficult for states to meet the rules without computerizing. The law requires states to check state unemployment insurance wage and benefit files, Social Security Administration wage and benefit files and IRS unearned income files before approving anyone for welfare benefits.