(The Center Square) – A recent memo from the Washington Department of Job Security highlights interagency disputes over an audit of the state’s job application system.
According to a November 18 note Obtained by the Seattle Times, ESD Commissioner Suzi Levine complained to State Audit and Special Investigations Director Sadie Armijo about a planned audit of the department’s systems.
In it, Levine claimed that the state auditor’s office failed to present a valid reason for performing a regular audit of the department.
Levine further claimed that unnecessary audits would only worsen the “extremely stressful environment” to which employees in the department are subjected.
In a letter Sent to Levine on October 20, Washington auditor Pat McCarthy said the department was deliberately and unreasonably delaying access to necessary documents.
âIf ESD continues on this path, we will report that management interference prevented us from completing the audits,â McCarthy wrote.
According to chapter 9.12 of federal auditing standards As stated by the Government Accountability Office, auditors are required to “describe the extent of the work performed and any limitations” and to “report any material constraints imposed on the audit approach by information limitations or alterations. of the scope â.
Levine denied any wrongdoing in an official statement released on Sunday.
âOur agency has hosted these audits from the start and we continue to do so,â Levine wrote. “We remain firmly committed to full transparency and work closely with the External Auditor and his staff, as we always have.”
ESD will be the subject of five audits, the first of which is scheduled for December. The concern, among others, the $ 650 million in fraudulent departmental payments that were stolen by cyber thieves earlier this year.
Levine announced in September that ESD collected $ 420 million at the time.
Tara Lee, director of communications for Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, said the governor was “aware of the problems and did not see any unsolvable.”
As the number of COVID-19 cases has increased in Washington, so have jobless claims.
ESD reported that 158,025 complaints were filed during the week of March 28, compared to just 63,908 complaints the week before. Since then, the state’s unemployment figures have hovered between six digits.
The week of November 21 saw 158,090 new jobless claims.
State now braces for another wave of claims following Inslee’s one month stop in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
Millions of Washingtonians and millions of other Americans stand to lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the year, when the federal CARES law expires on December 31.
Before the pandemic, most states paid unemployment benefits for 26 weeks, including Washington, where claimants were paid between $ 201 and $ 844.
Under the federal CARES law passed in March, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Emergency Pandemic Compensation programs extended these benefits by 39 weeks.
Based on The data According to the US Department of Labor published on Oct. 17, about 13.3 million people are at risk of losing the extended benefits they were receiving through these two programs.
Congress is only expected to meet 18 more days this year and has not indicated whether additional federal aid will be passed by the end.