State Auditor announces special review of unemployment benefit fraud

Jun 10, 2020

State Auditor Pat McCarthy notified Gov. Jay Inslee and members of the state Legislature today that the Office of the Washington State Auditor will begin two special examinations of the significant fraud and loss of public funds at the state Employment Security Department.

“Everyone recognizes these problems came at the worst possible time, when the need for essential unemployment benefits was unprecedented. Our role at the State Auditor's Office is to conduct independent reviews, and I have directed my staff to look in areas that will provide the public and state leaders with a greater understanding of how needed benefits were stolen and delayed,” Auditor Pat McCarthy said.

The new audit work will review two areas. One will be a performance audit to examine the factors that led to delayed and improper payments for unemployment benefits; the second will be an information technology audit to examine potential weaknesses in the computer systems that support the unemployment program.

Regular audit work is under way now at ESD, including the annual audit of federal funding. These regular audits will also take into account the more than $500 million in stolen funds, of which $333 million has been recovered.

“I know the Employment Security Department is working hard to deliver benefits to people who need them, help law enforcement track down the criminals who stole funds, and recover lost funds,” McCarthy said. “Beyond the immediate crisis, however, there are clearly lessons to be learned, and we intend to bring them to light.”

Previous messages from State Auditor Pat McCarthy