Poor planning and ineffective management left California’s unemployment agency unprepared to help workers left jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it failed to address problems in its system that were known for nearly a decade, according to an emergency state audit released Tuesday.
The report by State Auditor Elaine Howle was ordered by a bipartisan group of 40 state lawmakers who had criticized the state Employment Development Department for large backlogs of significantly delayed claims and its failure to prevent widespread fraud since the pandemic forced many businesses to close, putting millions of Californians out of work.
“Although it would be unreasonable to have expected a flawless response to such an historic event, EDD’s inefficient processes and lack of advanced planning led to significant delays in its payment of [unemployment insurance] claims,” Howle wrote to the governor and Legislature on Tuesday.
Howle said the agency was unable to automatically process nearly half of the claims submitted online between March and September 2020, and was forced to instead have the claims manually processed by staff.
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