Audit of Governor’s unemployment office confirms what everyone already knew, it is a mess 

State Senator Dave Syverson is calling for a complete audit of Governor Pritzker’s management of the state’s unemployment program following the release of a financial audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

On July 28 the Auditor General released a financial audit of IDES that detailed the Pritzker Administration’s failures regarding the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program. While the audit covered only seven weeks of the multi-month program, its findings were stark.

“For months, my Republican colleagues and I have been urging the Governor to take action, reopen IDES and address the issues with Illinois’ unemployment benefits system,” said Sen. Syverson. “After all, it was because of his statewide shutdowns that so many citizens had to turn to the unemployment system to begin with, but our calls have gone unanswered.”

Key findings from the report included:

  • The Pritzker Administration failed to validate the identities of over 4,500 claimants before paying them $41,697,272.
  • The Pritzker Administration paid PUA benefits to 164 claimants who were between the ages of birth and 13 years of age. These children received unemployment payments of more than $1,500,000.
  • The Pritzker Administration’s failure to accurately document eligibility resulted in potentially ineligible claimants receiving benefits worth almost $155,000,000.
  • The Pritzker Administration paid benefits to dozens of deceased claimants, costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • The Pritzker Administration, according to its own records, paid benefits to individuals who have yet to be born.

“Fraud and identity theft have run rampant in a system that was overwhelmed,” said Sen. Syverson. “This report just underscores the negligence of the Governor to protect the citizens of this state made vulnerable by his actions.”

On July 29, Sen. Syverson joined with other Senate Republican lawmakers to introduce a Senate resolution calling for a full performance audit of the issues within IDES.

The state had been warned. In April 2020, the federal government recommended that Illinois implement additional fraud-prevention tools. That warning fell on deaf ears in the Pritzker Administration, which failed to act.

The full audit can be found at: https://www.auditor.illinois.gov/Audit-Reports/Compliance-Agency-List/Emp-Sec/FY20-IDES-Fin-Full.pdf

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