Michigan taps firm to help with unemployment agency capacity

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Amid a pandemic with surging jobless claims, Michigan has picked a professional services firm to assist its Unemployment Insurance Agency with financial operations and investigations into fraudulent activity.

Deloitte, the state announced Thursday, will review programs and systems at the agency and assist with the investigation of imposter and fraudulent claims.

After a bidding process, the state picked Deloitte to provide services for 13 weeks at a cost of $727,488.

"As the UIA works to improve its systems to enhance customer service, data transparency, payment systems and fraud prevention, we’re glad to have Deloitte on our team," said Steve Gray, the agency's director. "The Deloitte team’s skills and experience help us protect Michiganders and provide unemployment benefits to our working families."

A graphic from Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency explains a new process through which the state is asking people to file claims on different days of the week based on their last names. The process is meant to help deal with the high demand for unemployment benefits.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency has faced criticism in recent months as it has struggled to cope with record jobless filings spurred by business closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a wave of fraudulent claims.

Some filers have reported waiting months to get their benefits and making dozens of unanswered phone calls to the agency in pursuit of help. Republican lawmakers have called for a leadership change.

Gray has apologized for flaws within the state's unemployment website, but the agency has also noted that it's paid benefits to more than 2 million people since the pandemic hit.

According to a press release, Deloitte "has extensive experience with state unemployment and workforce systems across the country and will provide valuable financial and systems knowledge as the UIA continues to process a historic number of claims during this health and economic crisis."

Deloitte will bring additional capacity to help the state identify potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities and take action to mitigate risks, the release said.

"... Deloitte is pleased to bring our deep understanding of unemployment insurance systems and our broad capabilities in cybersecurity and forensic assessment to support the state of Michigan’s efforts to protect the integrity of their complex systems,” said David Parent, Michigan managing principal, Deloitte LLP.