After an audit found the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) mishandled one of its duties related to administration of a federal program, state Rep. John Reilly, a member of the House Committee on Oversight, today called for the governor and agency leaders to run the UIA more efficiently.
The state Office of the Auditor General (OAG) today released a report that estimated the UIA paid about $3.9 billion in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits to at least 347,437 ineligible claimants. The audit said internal operations — including the “tone at the top” set by senior agency leadership — contributed to the failure.
After Reilly previously called for a leadership change at the UIA, Gov. Whitmer last month appointed Director Julia Dale to replace the acting director.
The audit reviewed the effectiveness of the UIA’s creation of eligibility criteria for PUA, a temporary federal program. The report concluded that the agency’s actions were not effective. The UIA originally included four invalid criteria on its PUA application, and the audit determined the agency still made improper eligibility determinations and overpayments for PUA nine months after the U.S. Department of Labor first made the UIA aware of issues with its application.
“This audit further reveals the severe problems at the Unemployment Insurance Agency,” said Reilly, of Oakland Township. “The agency incompetently approved billions of dollars in ineligible benefits, and leaders in the administration sat on their hands long after they were aware of the error. Not only has the agency been slow to help unemployed workers filing for benefits, but it has also waited to correct its own mistakes. Gov. Whitmer’s administration must ensure the unemployment agency does its job efficiently and effectively.”
Reilly and the Oversight Committee have been actively reviewing the administration of unemployment programs, including the ineligible PUA criteria. Many unemployed workers found it difficult to obtain assistance from the UIA throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and Reilly has helped numerous Oakland County residents with their claims. People currently experiencing difficulty can contact Reilly’s office by calling 517-373-1798 or emailing [email protected].
Additional audits by the OAG to review other aspects of the UIA are underway. Reilly said the committee will continue to monitor the agency and identify improvements.
According to the OAG, the UIA is now required to formulate a plan to follow the audit’s recommendations.
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