House Oversight Committee Chair Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) today said findings from the state Auditor General show the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency made key errors that prolonged confusion and anxiety for many throughout Michigan as they tried to get needed assistance.
The Auditor General disclosed that a variety of actions and inaction by UIA senior leadership during COVID-19 contributed to a poor control environment, which in turn led to the creation of a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application and certification process that was not federally compliant.
Johnson has held House Oversight Committee hearings on the issue and identified that the agency failed to notify nearly 700,000 people of the state error involving invalid PUA qualification. In its report, the Auditor General also determined UIA continued to make improper eligibility determinations and related overpayments for nine months after the U.S. Department of Labor first notified the state of the problem.
“When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down people’s livelihoods across the state, there was a massive surge in unemployment claims. People needed benefits to pay bills and support their families,” Johnson said. “They needed a fast-acting, efficient agency so they could do that. But rampant ineptitude and ineffectiveness at the agency led to weeks and months of hardship for a tremendous amount of people.
“These findings provide concrete proof that a pivotal arm of Gov. Whitmer’s administration failed when people needed it most. This was a state mistake with their criteria, not a mistake made by claimants. Worse yet, UIA continued down a path they were told was incorrect. I am hopeful the agency can improve going forward in these areas so people can have a jobless agency that performs for them.”
The audit disclosed that almost $4 billion in overpayments were made due to the noncompliant eligibility criteria. From March 15, 2020 through Sept. 27 of this year, UIA paid nearly $39 billion in total unemployment insurance claims from 5.4 million claims and just over 3.4 million claimants. The PUA claims are included in the total figures.
The audit report is the first of a series on UIA claims processing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson said the House Oversight Committee will continue to work with the agency and new director Julia Dale on effectiveness, while also reviewing additional reports from the Auditor General to provide needed accountability.
Rep. Johnson talks about the introduction Tuesday of his new legislation that would exempt Michigan residents with concealed pistol permits, or who are veterans of the Armed Forces, from the state requirement that individuals born after 1960 take a hunting safety course. Rep. Johnson says he thinks the plan is a common-sense reform that removes […]
House Oversight Committee Chair Steve Johnson says the Committee will continue to look for answers in the weeks ahead after a state audit disclosed that the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency hired more than 5,500 workers during the pandemic without performing adequate background checks.
House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Steve Johnson talks about Committee discussion Thursday of a package of bills designed to enhance the State’s Freedom of Information Act by speeding up acknowledgment times, making contact information more accessible, providing more information about public work groups and making methods more flexible. HBs 5921-5925 remain in the Committee and […]
House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Steve Johnson says he is troubled by the latest Auditor General’s report on the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, which suggests the UIA did not perform background checks on 5,500 agency hires during the pandemic. Rep. Johnson says the practice left the unemployment system open to fraud.