LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Working to hold the UIA accountable

Published 2:07 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

Last week, the Michigan House Oversight Committee began an investigation into the continued failures of the Unemployment Agency after the federal government revealed problems in how the state was processing unemployment claims.

A federal monitoring report conducted between October and December 2020 clearly shows the agency failed to notify nearly 700,000 people regarding changes in qualification for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for almost six months. As early as Jan. 6, the federal government informed the state that multiple benefit qualification requirements did not comply with federal law. As a result of the error, the UIA sent letters in June informing those individuals that they would be required to fill out additional paperwork to determine if they were truly eligible for the pandemic unemployment assistance they received. If not, the UIA says they may be required to pay the money back to the state.

The monitoring report also revealed leaders within UIA were knowingly making PUA payments to ineligible claimants for a similar time period – raising the risk for fraud. The department also knowingly failed to offer three separate PUA qualifications, ultimately excluding residents who may have actually been able to receive them but were denied. As I’ve said earlier, the lack of leadership and accountability from the unemployment agency has been pitiful.

The Oversight Committee has asked Director Olson to appear before the committee to further explain the timeline laid out in the report as well as the agency’s decision-making process. This administration may not believe in efficient and effective government, but my colleagues and I will work to hold them accountable and ensure that Michigan residents are protected from the incompetence of Lansing bureaucrats.

Pauline Wendzel