The global COVID-19 pandemic upended life across the nation, leading to exceptional numbers of people eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Washington saw unprecedented insurance claim volumes, and the Employment Security Department (ESD) struggled to manage the demand. Compounding its challenges in helping clients obtain benefits, the agency was overwhelmed by a barrage of fraudulent claims that eventually forced ESD to adopt new procedures to prevent payments from going to false claimants.
In 2021, the state Legislature passed a bill that responded to widely documented concerns about how ESD managed the crisis. The bill required ESD to report key customer service metrics to the public and Legislature. It also mandated practices to address some specific problems many claimants faced.
This performance audit sought to independently determine whether the agency met the requirements of that legislation and to what extent its customer service had improved.
Read a two-page summary of the report.