January 18, 2017
8:57 am

Unemployment Agency Improvements Coming

Whether you're an employer dealing with unemployment agency issues through the Michigan Talent Investment Agency or simply a worker trying to access benefits, 2017 is on target to be a better year across the board.

Officials have announced today that the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency will become more effective and efficient in making sure people get the benefits they are entitled to under a three-point plan to address challenges within the agency.

Wanda Stokes is Director of the Talent Investment Agency, and she announced the changes today, because the Unemployment Insurance Agency is under her bailiwick at the TIA. 

Stokes became TIA director in July and she says today she is conducting a top-to-bottom review of the agency and has made a change in leadership at the UIA, which provides temporary income to residents who lose jobs through no fault of their own and collects taxes from businesses to pay for that income.

Stokes says today, “The Unemployment Insurance Agency helps Michiganders through a difficult time in their lives, and has many dedicated employees who serve our state well.” However, Stokes says, "There are significant challenges within the agency that must be addressed. We must do better, and I am committed to making the agency stronger and more effective.”

Stokes said issues with various aspects of the UIA’s operations have been identified by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General, state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin. The agency also is responding to concerns raised by customers.

Stokes says today, “I thank the people who have brought problems to our attention.”  She adds, “We already have made some improvements and there are more to come. We are moving quickly because Michigan residents and employers deserve the best service possible.”

Stokes today presented a three-point plan to address issues that have been raised.

Point One - Focus on customer service:
  • The focus must be on helping Michiganders through this difficult time in their lives, and effectively running a system that best collects unemployment insurance taxes from employers.
  • UIA must do a better job listening to its customers to ensure they are assisted effectively and efficiently to get the benefits they are entitled to.
  • UIA will address the way residents interact with the agency through the telephone, online, on mobile devices and in person.

Point two - Organization evaluation:
  • Stokes has started a review of the UIA structure from top to bottom as well as other bureaus within the TIA, to determine whether changes should be made to ensure the agency operates more effectively and efficiently, and is transparent and accountable.
  • As a result of this review, Stokes has determined that a change in UIA leadership is needed to allow for a fresh look at the agency’s challenges and operations.
  • UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey has been reassigned but will continue as a member of the TIA leadership team. She will work on special projects, including serving as a representative to the Michigan Works! boards across the state.
  • Bruce Noll, TIA’s legislative liaison, will serve as acting assistant director of the UIA and oversee the agency during a national search.
  • Noll worked in the state Legislature as a chief of staff and legislative director before serving as a legislative liaison with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He joined TIA in early 2016.

Point three - Identifying and addressing fraud:
  • There have been challenges with the way the agency used data compiled by the MiDAS computer system to identify potential fraud. Work on this issue will continue.
  • Changes have been made to UIA practices to make sure that staff reviews potential fraud cases, rather than relying solely on the software.
  • UIA will work with our customers to resolve cases and protect employers and people who need benefits from fraudulent claims.

Stokes says work has begun on each of the points already and that additional changes could be announced in the coming weeks and months.

She points out, “We need to work quickly,” adding, “At all times we must remember that we are here to serve our state’s residents and employers. When people are looking for work, they look to us for help and we must do our best to get them the help they are entitled to.”
TIA joins the efforts of the Workforce Development Agency and the Unemployment Insurance Agency to integrate new workers into the economy and help those workers that have been in or out of the workforce transition into new jobs. TIA coordinates programs related to job preparedness, career-based education, worker training, employment assistance and unemployment insurance.
Filed Under :
Topics : Labor
Location : Michigan
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