Labor Dept. forms new office to modernize, reform unemployment insurance system

Labor Dept. forms new office to modernize, reform unemployment insurance system
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The Department of Labor on Tuesday announced the establishment of a new office that will be tasked with helping state agencies modernize and reform the unemployment insurance system.

The agency said the unit, dubbed the Office of Unemployment Insurance Modernization (OUIM), will oversee and manage the $2 billion allocated to the department under the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package President BidenJoe BidenRand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment' Dems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Six big off-year elections you might be missing MORE signed in March to address some of the major challenges states have faced in the past year. 

With the funding, the agency said in an announcement that the new office will work to “prevent and detect fraud, promote equitable access, ensure timely benefits payments and reduce backlogs.”

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The unit will also develop and support plans outlined by the department in a notice detailing some of its reform efforts earlier this month. Those efforts include working with federal partners to modernize antiquated state technology and improving outreach.  

In the past year, Labor said it provided assistance to roughly 53 million workers as the nation saw a surge in joblessness amid the coronavirus pandemic. The agency said it has also pumped nearly $800 billion into the economy during the same period.

Secretary of Labor Marty WalshMarty WalshSix big off-year elections you might be missing The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - White House tackles how to vaccinate children ages 5+ Policymakers see retraining older Americans as key to combating labor shortage MORE said earlier this month that the pandemic “underscored the need for modernization of the 53 different systems that administer unemployment insurance benefits” in the nation. 

Walsh said the pandemic also “exposed significant vulnerabilities in state technology to criminals looking for an opportunity.”

Labor said its new office will work closely with the Employment and Training Administration, the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.   

Walsh has appointed Yvette Meftah to head up the new office’s modernization efforts. Senior advisor on unemployment insurance Michele Evermore has also been tapped to serve as OUIM’s deputy director for policy.