Labor and Economic Opportunity
Stokes says agency's focus will remain on helping residents
Lansing, Mich., February 14, 2017 — The Talent Investment Agency welcomes the opportunity to work with its partners in the Legislature as it continues to work aggressively to make the Unemployment Insurance Agency more effective and address some of the recent challenges, Director Wanda M. Stokes said.
Politics shouldn’t be allowed to distract from ongoing efforts to help state residents and improve the system, Stokes said. The agency already has set changes in place to improve the system, and knows there is more to do.
The agency wants to make sure lawmakers and state residents have accurate information about progress that has been made regarding potential unemployment insurance fraud cases and an on-going investigation into a computer personal data vulnerability.
Stokes said she feels horrible about the situation related to the fraud accusations, has apologized to the people affected and is focused on improving customer service in the agency, which provides benefits to people who have lost jobs through no fault of their own. TIA oversees the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
“We want the UIA to be a place people can turn to when they are going through a difficult time, and we are focused on making sure people get the benefits they are entitled to,” she said. “We have worked with state lawmakers to make reforms in the fraud determination system, and set those changes into law.”
Stokes is committed to reviewing about 50,000 cases determined between October 2013 and August 2015. A computer program was used to auto adjudicate about 22,000 cases, and a review was completed late last year. UIA is reviewing about 28,000 additional cases that were determined with a mix of the computer system and some level of staff involvement, work that is expected to be completed in June.
Stokes has changed leadership at the UIA and is conducting a top-to-bottom review of the agency, with a focus on improving customer service.
The data vulnerability issue is unrelated to the fraud determinations. The agency continues to work with the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the Michigan State Police and the Office of the Attorney General on the issue, which occurred when a vendor updated the computer software in October.
While data was potentially available to trained human resource professionals who work daily with sensitive information, the agencies are determining the extent of the vulnerability and take whatever steps are necessary to protect Michiganders’ personal data. No evidence at this point indicates information was used maliciously.
Stokes discusses the fraud determinations and the process moving forward in this video.