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Unemployment Insurance (UI) Integrity Institute

In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order to reduce improper Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments by intensifying efforts to eliminate payment error, waste, fraud, and abuse in the major programs administered by the federal government. Subsequent legislation, the Improper Payment Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) of 2010, required that improper payments be reduced to less than 10 percent.  At the time, the “Great Recession” was unfolding, unemployment rates were on the rise, and states were struggling to meet the burgeoning demand for unemployment insurance payments.  With a UI overpayment rate of 11.2 percent nationally, the DOL found itself out of compliance with the legislation, and in need of an immediate solution to reduce improper payments.

Working in partnership with the 53 states and territories that administer UI programs, the U.S.  Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA) engaged Maher & Maher to:

  • Help shape an overall strategic plan and quickly implement a tangible, measureable action plan.
  • Identify and recommend changes to ultimately create a culture of common ownership and innovation that will continuously improve performance.
  • Identify and share root problems and solutions to focus attention on reducing overpayments throughout the UI system and to help replicate best practices.
  • Incorporate UI integrity measures into DOL and state performance management systems.

Maher & Maher worked hand-in-hand with DOL to design and launch an accelerated, six week virtual UI Integrity Institute for 11 “high-impact” states with the greatest UI improper payment levels.  Then, based on the learning from the first virtual UI Integrity Institute, Maher & Maher used the same model of facilitated, collaborative virtual learning to host a second Institute for the remaining out-of-compliance states and territories.  This gave DOL state-specific, measurable plans to insure continuing sustainable improper payment reductions nationwide. 

As part of this innovative process to help DOL reach its goal, Maher & Maher:

  • Managed an overall calendar with clear timelines for DOL and state actions.
  • Facilitated the formation of state UI Integrity Teams charged with analyzing issues, marshalling resources, developing and committing to strategic plans to reduce improper payments.
  • Supported and coordinated closely with State Team Facilitators responsible for team activities, including development of and training using a Facilitators Guide.
  • Coordinated compilation, sharing, and training on state-specific data which revealed probable causes for improper payments.
  • Developed a state self-assessment tool for state teams to identify sources of issues areas and to target corrective activities.
  • Designed strategic plan and presentation templates requiring states to identify issues by their source, develop short and long term strategies to address each issue, assign responsibility, and put in place completion timelines.
  • Developed tools for creating state Integrity communication plans and products for state agency claimant and employer messaging (newsletters, public service announcements, internet broadcasts, news releases including those about fraud actions, etc.) to the broader UI community.
  • Helped states develop internal “everybody owns integrity” plans to engage UI staff at all levels.
  • Facilitated virtual presentation by the states to their peers and to DOL, capturing and sharing the learning and best practices.
  • Built and managed an online space for all UI Integrity learning and materials on a password protected UI Community of Practice in order to accommodate UI security needs.