My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a taste:
Unfortunately, if there is anything that Tony Evers has shown throughout the entirety of his elected career, he is not a competent leader. Spurred by complaints to the state’s Fraud, Waste, and Mismanagement Hotline, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau investigated multiple allegations that the DWD’s administration of unemployment insurance program was still suffering from delays and mismanagement. The hotline reports included many issues including delayed payments, call center wait times, insufficient assistance, and the failure to comply with state statutes and federal program requirements.
The LAB found that the issues with the call center’s effectiveness were consistent with their findings in January. Based on the continuing complaints, the DWD still has not corrected for the issues even though they have been continuing for over 15 months.
The LAB also dove into the data regarding the DWD complying with certain federal requirements and found that the DWD was woefully out of compliance. One of the requirements imposed by the federal government as a condition for the state to receive funding for the unemployment insurance program is the DWD is required to provide a prompt appeals process for individuals who are denied unemployment benefits. The federal rules require that the state issue appeal decisions for 60% of appeals within 30 days and for at least 80% within 45 days.
The DWD met that standard until May of 2020. Beginning in June 2020, the DWD fell to less than 50% of appeals decided within 45 days. That temporary failure to comply was understandable given the crush of unemployment claims at the time. Unfortunately for Wisconsin’s unemployed, the DWD’s appeals process steadily worsened to the point that as of May 2021, only 17.5% of appeals were decided within 45 days and only 10.2% were decided within 30 days.