Statewide audit shows unemployment office archived more than 400,000 unread emails

FRANKFORT, KY. – Last Tuesday, Auditor Mike Harmon’s office released the first volume of the Statewide Single Audit of Kentucky for Fiscal Year 2020.

The report contains 25 findings, half of them dealing with problems identified within the Office of Unemployment Insurance and the Unemployment Insurance fund.

According to the report, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges for state government, and particularly for OUI, as business closures led to thousands of Kentuckians becoming unemployed.

Due to the volume of claims and new federal programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, OUI leadership made decisions that violated federal law and sacrificed program integrity in an attempt to more quickly get payments to unemployed individuals, according to the report.

One of these changes, referred to as “Auto-Pay,” allowed UI benefits to be automatically paid without requiring claimants to report the weekly wage information needed to determine whether they were actually eligible for benefits, according to the report.

Although OUI officials made high-risk decisions in an attempt to pay benefits more quickly, many claims still were not timely processed, according to Harmon.

As of Oct. 29, 2020, the claims backlog of unprocessed, initial jobless claims totaled approximately 80,000.

Additionally, OUI had archived more than 400,000 emails the office received through its UI assistance email account that remained unread as of November 9, 2020.

These emails from claimants could include indications or problems for OUI to address, not to mention general questions from unemployed Kentuckians.

Harmon encourages the public to reach out to state representative or senator if you have not yet received a response about your unemployment claims.

To see the full audit, click here.