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Gov. Beshear responds to Auditor Harmon's report of Unemployment Insurance Office

Posted at 11:10 PM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 23:10:02-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gov. Andy Beshear says the issues raised by a new report from Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon on the Office of Unemployment Insurance have already been addressed or are in the process of being addressed.

This comes after the report found in part, at least ten OUI employees had access to their own claims. That finding has been referred to the Attorney General's office, according to the report.

Gov. Beshear said action has already been taken against those employees.

"That is dereliction of duty. That's taking advantage of your position and that's why I've ordered our Inspector General, long before anything else to look at it. We published that report. We took action," he said.

The same can be said for other issues raised by the report, Gov. Beshear said.

"Every piece in it has either been previously disclosed, was an investigation launched by myself and the Lieutenant Governor long before any audit and or has already been rectified," he said.

Gov. Beshear said his administration inherited an OUI that was understaffed, underfunded, and susceptible to fraud because of outdated technology.

"I would've really liked to have seen in the audit when the legislature cut $18 million from the budget, he said, "That you can't do this and have a sustainable UI office that's going to be able to address a sharp spike in claims."

The OUI has picked up efforts to collect wrongful payments, he said, but the priority continues to be processing the claims of Kentuckians who continue to wait for their benefits.

In the report released yesterday, Auditor Mike Harmon referenced a previous report which found hundreds of thousands of emails to the unemployment office had gone unread.

“While thousands of Kentuckians tried to call or email seeking help about their own claims to no avail, employees within OUI could freely check and possibly even make changes to remove stops on their own claims. Given the more than 400,000 unread emails we learned of previously, this finding only adds to the frustration of those who have waited months for assistance,” Auditor Harmon said.