Better collection of unemployment overpayments needed
The Secretary of State Audits Division released a report today that found Oregon Employment Department computer systems reasonably ensured accurate and timely payment of unemployment benefit, but the department could improve handling of unusual or complicated claims.
For example, auditors found about $23 million of identified overpayments, about one percent of total payments, were not processed for more than six months, delaying collection efforts. In addition, auditors identified $6 million of overpayments that likely would never be assigned for collection. The department also handled some overpayments by paying claims again without considering the amount that was already overpaid, increasing overpayment totals for these claims from about $4.1 million to $9.6 million.
“During this great recession, unemployment benefits have been a lifeline to so many Oregonians. Still, it’s important for the Employment Department to minimize overpayments and to set up sound procedures for collecting that money to protect taxpayers and businesses,” Secretary of State Kate Brown said.
Auditors also noted improvements the department could make to better manage changes to computer code, define how the system would be recovered in the event of a disaster, and improve security over the system and its data.
The report, including the agency response, can be found at www.sos.state.or.us/audits.