HomeBudget & Tax NewsAudit of Illinois’ Unemployment Agency Shows Mountain of Problems

Audit of Illinois’ Unemployment Agency Shows Mountain of Problems

Findings include a failure to maintain accurate unemployment claimant data.

(The Center Square) – A scathing audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security shows deficiencies throughout the Pritzker administration agency.

The two-year audit from the Illinois auditor general released this week included the first 18 months of the pandemic and shows the unemployment agency did not have proper controls over many aspects of the federally funded state agency. There were 26 compliance findings. All but three showed significant deficiencies.

Among the findings was a failure to maintain accurate and complete claimant data for pandemic unemployment assistance. While the audit from during the peak of the pandemic shows as of June 30, 2021, nearly 425,000 claimants were paid more than $8.1 billion, not much else could be gathered.

“After several attempts and considerable manipulation of the data to make the data more auditable and organized, it was determined complete and accurate PUA claimant data could not be provided,” the audit finding said. “Therefore, we were unable to conduct detailed testing to determine whether the PUA claimants were entitled to benefits.”

State Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, said it’s unacceptable that not even the state’s auditor general can see the scope of taxpayer funded spending at the height of the pandemic.

“To me it is just hugely problematic, especially given that much of the unemployment or quite a bit of the unemployment that did occur were due to shutdowns that [Gov. J.B. Pritzker] himself imposed,” Ugaste told The Center Square.

Unemployment in Illinois hit historic levels after the governor’s stay at home order was issued in the spring of 2020, preventing many businesses from having in-person services.

Illinois was one of several states that borrowed from federal taxpayer funds to pay unemployment claims during the pandemic. The state racked up $4.5 billion in debt with interest. After using federal pandemic relief tax funds to pay down the debt, the state still owes $1.8 billion and taxpayers pay interest on the debt.

The audit findings highlight that state law requires state agencies to establish proper accounting as safeguards against “waste, loss, unauthorized use and misappropriation and maintain accountability over the State’s resources.”

The department also failed to prepare monthly reconciliations and had weaknesses in security over confidential information, among other findings.

There were several prior findings that were not repeated, the report says, including upgrades to local office security and inadequate controls over telecommunication devices.

The auditor says the department accepted various findings, but waived an exit conference.

Ugaste said this is on top of all the other problems at other Pritzker administration state agencies like the Department of Children and Family Services director being found in contempt of court multiple times for improper placement of children.

“We need new leadership from the governor’s office on down,” Ugaste said. “This is just another example of the Pritzker administration falling short on these issues.”

Messages to the Pritzker administration and his political campaign went unanswered.

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.

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Greg Bishop
Greg Bishop
Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.


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