Report 2010-112 Recommendations and Responses in 2013-041

Report 2010-112: Employment Development Department: Its Unemployment Program Has Struggled to Effectively Serve California's Unemployed in the Face of Significant Workload and Fiscal Challenges

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of 2012-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Employment Development Department 2 9 5 5 5

Recommendation To: Employment Development Department

To further enhance its corrective action planning process as a means of improving the unemployment program, the department should establish several key performance targets or benchmarks that are tied to each specific corrective action, to effectively gauge the impact of the actions on its goal of achieving the acceptable levels related to the timeliness measures.

Response

This recommendation has been partially implemented due to chronic federal underfunding in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, which has led to reduced staff, combined with the need to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project as a high priority. The EDD made every effort to develop key performance targets that tied to specific corrective actions when drafting the State Quality Service Plan for 2014. The EDD established key performance targets for those areas that lend themselves to measurement and included methodology to measure the success of those particular strategies. However, in September 2013 the EDD launched a new internal payment system that significantly changes the way EDD manages and processes the work and the new system provides completely different reporting mechanisms. New business rules were established to enable EDD to measure the age of the work, the type of the work and whether or not the work items could affect payment timeliness. As with any new system, it will take time for staff to adjust to the new way of processing work and a new baseline needs to be set before realistic performance targets can be set. To further aid it in this endeavor, the EDD plans to conduct business process assessment activities with the aid of a third party to help it rethink and redesign UI business processes to achieve significant improvements in performance that will ultimately help EDD improve its federal performance measures.

Dependent on the extent of its federal underfunding, EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2014.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: End of 2014
  • Response Date: October 2013

Recommendation To: Employment Development Department

As part of an overall strategy to limit the number of calls it receives while still providing timely and effective customer service, the department should use existing data and additional data from the new phone system to gain a better understanding of why people request to speak to an agent. Using this information, the department should further develop strategies and measurable goals related to achieving a reduction in call volumes. For example, to ensure that virtually all calls are able to gain access to the voice response portion of its new phone system, the department should monitor the volume of blocked call attempts and work with its phone system vendor if necessary to increase the system's capacity.

Response

This recommendation has been partially implemented due to chronic federal underfunding in the UI program, which has led to reduced staff, combined with the need to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project as a high priority. The EDD acknowledges the value in obtaining detailed information about why callers request to speak to an agent. To obtain information at the level of specificity that the audit recommended, the EDD is conducting UI Self-Service Options Surveys before and after implementation of the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project to determine claimants' reasons for calling, their reasons for requesting an agent instead of exercising one of the self-service options available to them, and their suggestions for improving the self-service options. By conducting the survey before and after the project implementation, researchers may assess the extent to which the enhancements and additional self-service options impact callers' decisions to call into the system and to request an agent. The EDD will use the information from the survey to explore additional strategies to reduce call volume.

The first survey's population included people who called the UI claims main English and Spanish telephone lines (not to be confused with the automated self-service line) between June 28 and July 2, 2013. The online survey was conducted in both English and Spanish from July 26 through September 10, 2013. Individuals without computer access had the option to complete it over the phone with an EDD researcher. The EDD anticipates completing the data analysis from the first survey and reporting the results by November 2013.

Dependent on the extent of its federal underfunding, EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2014.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: End of 2014
  • Response Date: October 2013

Recommendation To: Employment Development Department

To evaluate the effectiveness of its other efforts to provide services to claimants in ways that do not require them to speak to agents, such as Web-Cert and Tele-Cert, the department should periodically summarize and assess the more robust management information available under its new phone system.

Response

This recommendation has been partially implemented due to chronic federal underfunding in the UI program, which has led to reduced staff, combined with the need to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project as a high priority. The EDD acknowledges the value in obtaining detailed information to evaluate the effectiveness of its self-service efforts. System reports do not provide insight as to why callers request to speak to agents and are unable to use EDD's self-service features. Accordingly, the EDD will utilize the UI Self-Service Options Surveys as described in response to Recommendation #4 to obtain the information needed to determine what changes could be made to EDD's service delivery systems. This information will also assist EDD in identifying potential enhancements to the Interactive Voice Response system.

Dependent on the extent of its federal underfunding, EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2014.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: End of 2014
  • Response Date: October 2013

Recommendation To: Employment Development Department

To better track and improve the timeliness of determinations for the training benefits program and to assist claimants in understanding self-arranged training requirements, the department should track and report the number of claimants it determines are both eligible and ineligible for the self-arranged training and the reasons for these determinations, to better focus some of its recommendations toward how it can assist claimants in understanding the program's criteria.

Response

This recommendation has been partially implemented due to chronic federal underfunding in the UI program, which has led to reduced staff, combined with the need to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project as a high priority. The EDD has continued to track the number of claimants who were eligible or ineligible for self-arranged training and the statutory reasons for the outcome with weekly reports and has focused on improving eligibility outcomes by identifying the most frequent reasons why claimants were ineligible for training benefits.

The data identified that claimants are frequently ineligible under California Unemployment Insurance Code 1269.1(b), which establishes the claimant's need for training. The EDD identified that staff were determining eligibility based on information that did not effectively reflect current labor market conditions. To assist staff in basing decisions on current conditions, the EDD released a UI Program Notice in May 2013 with specific criteria to assist staff in determining whether claimants need training or have job prospects with existing skills. The EDD continues to evaluate the effectiveness of these procedures by monitoring weekly reports.

Using this data, the EDD also continues to focus on developing the most effective means to communicate program criteria to claimants. As part of the effort to implement SB 1291, Chapter 278, in 2014 that expands eligibility for training benefits, EDD evaluated current web content and identified updates and additions to release with the new eligibility criteria. In addition, the UI program continues to work closely with workforce partners to educate claimants on criteria for self-arranged training eligibility and to assist claimants in seeking programs that have pre-approved eligibility for the program.

Dependent on the extent of its federal underfunding, EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2014.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: End of 2014
  • Response Date: October 2013

Recommendation To: Employment Development Department

To better track and improve the timeliness of determinations for the training benefits program and to assist claimants in understanding self-arranged training requirements, the department should track the number of claimants that it finds to be both ineligible for self-arranged training and ultimately ineligible for unemployment benefits and develop strategies to expedite the determination process for these claimants.

Response

This recommendation has been partially implemented due to chronic federal underfunding in the UI program, which has led to reduced staff, combined with the need to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project as a high priority. To implement this recommendation, the EDD began collecting a random sample of claimants that it found to be both ineligible for self-arranged training and ultimately ineligible for unemployment benefits in late 2012 and on-going. The claims included in the sample were analyzed to determine the reason the claimants are ultimately ineligible for benefits and the findings were documented. The results of the review covering the fourth quarter of 2012 show that the majority of claimants were ultimately ineligible for benefits due to a voluntary separation from employment without good cause under California Unemployment Insurance Code 1256. The results from the first quarter of 2013 are being reviewed. It is taking longer to analyze the results due to a resource contention to implement the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project.

The EDD continues to collect detailed data from the streamlined determination process and has routinely utilized the streamline process to identify areas for improvement for all training benefits determinations. With the statewide release of the streamline process for self-arranged training in September 2013 for claimants in continued claims status, the EDD has ensured that more claimants will receive expedited determinations and that an increasing amount of data is available for claimants who are ineligible for both self-arranged training and unemployment benefits. In addition, the successful implementation of the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign project will provide enhanced data collection in the future for all training benefits determinations.

Dependent on the extent of its federal underfunding, EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2014.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: End of 2014
  • Response Date: October 2013

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2013-041