Created: May 04, 2021 05:47 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A growing number of state lawmakers want answers from the New York State Department of Labor about the massive problem of unemployment fraud, it’s an issue News10NBC has been exposing for months.
Now, a delegation of Republican Senators is calling for a forensic audit of the NYS Department of Labor’s IT systems and an accurate assessment of potential fraud, particularly as the state’s Unemployment Insurance fund is facing a $10 billion deficit which has led to dramatic increases in costs to small businesses.
“On the economic side, I can't think of a bigger issue than the unemployment system and the abject failure (of it) at the moment when every New Yorker needed government to be there on a critical issue, we did not meet the challenge,” said Senate Minority Leader Bob Ortt. “We need as a government, as government leaders to identify and be honest about what failed and how we fix it going forward because shame on us if we don’t do that.”
Ortt and a number of his colleagues believe a complete forensic audit of NYSDOL’s system is needed to identify failures and weaknesses in order to avoid future catastrophic failures.
“New York State has attracted criminals from around the world with its lax system, a system that really incubated fraud and on top of that now we’re going to pretend it didn’t happen, let’s have some transparency,” said Sen. George Borrello (R, 57).
News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week about unemployment fraud that has helped to drain the unemployment insurance fund. The Governor said he wasn’t aware that businesses were seeing significant increases in their unemployment insurance rates in an effort to replenish the fund.
“New York State has a $10 billion deficit in its unemployment insurance fund and yet we can’t get a straight answer as to how much fraud has actually occurred in our unemployment system,” Sen. Borrello said.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for NYSDOL said, “There is no comparison from where we were a year ago to where we are today. In fact, all claims less than three weeks old have been processed. Those claims that have not yet been completed are extremely complex. Every state’s unemployment system has been tested and pushed to the limits during this crisis, but in New York we have moved mountains to connect more than 4.6 million New Yorkers with over $81.3 billion in benefits, while launching a new Google-backed application, updating our phone system, increasing communication with New Yorkers, and instituting new Federal programs before other states. Throughout this process the DOL has worked very closely with our legislators on both sides of the aisle to address the needs and concerns of our fellow New Yorkers. In addition, we have thoroughly reevaluated best practices to better serve New Yorkers, we learned how to better communicate with customers in real time across multiple platforms, and we continue to make improvements and do what it takes to serve New Yorkers in need and to protect the lifeline of their benefits.”
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