The Illinois Department of Employment Security handled an avalanche of fraud cases during the pandemic. IDES will now face another audit.
The Legislative Audit Commission voted on Wednesday to conduct another audit of the agency for its relationship with the Unemployment Pandemic Assistance Program after June 30, 2020.
This follows another audit released in July by the Auditor General of Illinois, which found errors in the allocation of federal pandemic aid funds. In the report, IDES funneled nearly $ 155 million to potentially ineligible applicants from May 11 to June 30, 2020. Thousands of people who received the money had died, were under 13, or did not exist. .
“We all realize that in the first few months of the pandemic everyone was drinking water from the proverbial fire hose, but it is outrageous,” said Senator Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.
Governor JB Pritzker said every state in the country faces the same problem and the federal government should shoulder part of it.
“The federal program is the one that hacked some of the $ 150 million that you’re talking about, of the billions that were distributed in Illinois were federal program dollars,” Pritzker said.
The audit said: “The ministry (IDES) failed to implement general information technology checks on the unemployment assistance system in the event of a pandemic.”
Agency officials have yet to declare how much money they believe has been embezzled by fraud, but there have been estimates at nearly $ 1 billion.
Experts have been sounding the alarm bells on vulnerable state systems for years. One of them was Haywood Talcove, CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions Government Group, who said Pritzker needed to address these issues before the state faced another crisis.
“It’s really going to take their leadership to get in there and really clean up this thing, or they’re going to keep wasting public money,” Talcove said.
Some IDES offices have recently reopened, but many remain closed and those that are open are by appointment only.
“I think the need for this follow-up audit is obvious,” Rose said. “We have to dig in and understand what really happened at IDES, what is continually happening at IDES, and I think more importantly, what are we going to do about it.”