Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wisconsin Unemployment Claims: Incompetence a Big Factor

When you get right down to it, the UW report on Wisconsin's unemployment compensation failure looks a lot like incompetence.  But that's hardly all.  Remember all the screeching from Democrats about "old systems"?  Yah--guess who cancelled the upgrade?  And there will be a free-for-all bar-fight over outsourcing parts of the system because no matter the incompetence, understaffing, or computer problems, the bureaucracy will NEVER shrink. 

The Department blamed "computer systems."  UW:

...Wisconsin could have fared better had the unemployment system been updated before 2020, Williams said, but that wasn't the only issue contributing to the state's low rates of payments or high delay times. He pointed to an audit of the system that found adjudicators were not addressing claims even when they had the information to do so. 

"The outdated system is certainly part of it, but I know there were other states around the country which had (an outdated system)," he said in an interview. "Ultimately that has to point to how — at least somewhat — the department was managed and how resources were utilized to handle the big increase in claims." ...

Could it have been inadequate staffing?  That's a factor, too.

...The department lacked staff to handle the influx of claims and calls about claims, causing adjudication to back up for months....

Yes, but DWD had plenty of warning from Trump about shutdowns and DHS refused to bring in other State employees (or anyone else) to cover--until Evers fired the top jackwad and brought in a real manager who engaged Google to help out.

Here's a fun fact that somehow got into print despite official silence up to today:

,,,An upgrade to the unemployment system was shelved in 2007 due to rising costs and delays, after the state spent more than $23 million. ...

Can you spell Jim Doyle, who was Governor during 2007?

What to do about all this?

...Williams suggests that Wisconsin outsource its unemployment system to be run by a human resources company, rather than spending millions to start the system from scratch with an overhaul....

But DWD would rather spend $100 MILLION to re-work the systems on its own.

...So far, the state has asked for proposals for the first phase of updates, Secretary-designee Pechacek said in an interview last week, which is an overhaul of the call center helpline. The update to that system will allow claimants to call with questions around the clock instead of only during limited daytime hours. Pechacek said the department will begin looking for contractors to modernize the back end of the unemployment system this summer. ...

IOW, the State ain't giving up its death-grip (almost literal, eh?) on the system.

...Barrilleaux said that under federal law, fully outsourcing unemployment likely would not be legal. 

In response, Williams said that the state could outsource automatic data processing, and a system to take claims information. Decisions for benefits would still happen within the department, but like the contract with Google Cloud, some portions could be sped up. ...

It will fall to the Legislature to make the decisions about this matter, which is not necessarily unalloyed good news.  "Git'R'Done" is not a Governmental virtue; just ask Donald Trump.

Evers is likely to veto anything that reduces the State's full-time-employee count (union jobs!!!) but he's not likely to survive the next election.  Maybe there is some hope.

And maybe by then, all the UC claims will have been paid!

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