Report 2010-112 Recommendations and Responses in 2014-041

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 2013-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Employment Development Department 3 9 5 5 3

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 is fully implemented with the submission of California's State Quality Service Plan (SQSP) for Federal Fiscal Year 2015, which includes action plans to improve federal performance measures.

A group of EDD subject matter experts, known as the Business Process Innovation Team (formerly the Business Process Assessment Team), has been working with a third-party consultant to conduct reviews of Unemployment Insurance (UI) functions and business processes to identify areas for improvement and streamlining. To date, the team has reviewed the claim filing and determinations processes to identify bottlenecks that cause delays in getting the first UI payment to eligible claimants. After a review and analysis of a sample of claims, the team made specific data-driven recommendations to improve federal performance measures for first payment promptness and determination timeliness. These recommendations were incorporated in the SQSP document recently submitted to the United States Department of Labor. The Business Process Innovation Team will track and measure the outcomes of those solutions and the impact on the performance measures.

Additionally, as part of EDD's ongoing continuous improvement efforts, EDD will utilize the new reporting data available in the new UI benefit payment system to establish performance targets and to assist in effectively gauging the impact of the Corrective Action Plans in the SQSP on our performance goals.

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

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. The EDD is conducting UI Self-Service Options Surveys before and after implementation of the UI Online self-services phase of the UI Modernization Continued Claims Redesign Project to explore strategies to reduce call volume. The first survey's population included people who called the UI claims main English and Spanish telephone lines (not 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. Results of the first survey showed that the most common reasons claimants called were to obtain claim status information (36% of respondents), file or reopen a claim (21%), certify for benefits (20%), and get EDD Debit CardSM or benefit payment information (18%).

UI Online has been scheduled for release in the spring of 2015. Once UI Online is implemented and all claimants have been phased into the system, EDD will conduct the second survey to identify claimants' reasons for calling, reasons for requesting an agent instead of using the self-service options, and suggestions for improving the self-service options.

The EDD will continue to periodically survey claimants in the future to obtain information about the adequacy of self-services via the telephone and UI Online in order to continue to make customer service improvements.

The EDD anticipates completion by the end of 2015.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: December 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

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.

The EDD acknowledges the value in obtaining detailed information to evaluate the effectiveness of its self-service efforts. Accordingly, EDD will utilize the UI Self-Service Options Surveys as described in response to Recommendation No. 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.

The EDD anticipates completion of this recommendation by the end of 2015.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: December 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

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

In December 2013, the EDD implemented a significant change to its eligibility policy for claimants who are attending school or training. Effective December 7, 2013, there is no eligibility issue and UI benefit payments continue uninterrupted when claimants certify that they began training and that they are available for work.

This change in policy significantly reduced the number of California Training Benefits that EDD conducts, which are only necessary when claimants certify they are unavailable for work or not seeking work due to school or training attendance. In addition, eligibility for the training benefits program becomes moot if claimants no longer need to be exempted from availability and seek work requirements.

After the statewide implementation of the streamlined eligibility process in September 2013, EDD now sends detailed information about the training benefits program and eligibility criteria along with a request for training program information when claimants certify they are attending school or training and unavailable for work, and there are no additional non-school eligibility issues present.

Since 2011, EDD has continued to produce and monitor weekly reports that track the number of claimants who were eligible or ineligible for the training benefits program and the statutory reasons for the outcome. The EDD collects extensive data through the streamline process, which is used to continuously improve determination timeliness, identify why claimants fail to qualify for the training benefits program, and better assist claimants in understanding the program's criteria.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved
  • Completion Date: January 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

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

As explained in the response to Recommendation No. 9, the EDD's change to its eligibility policy for school or training attendance in December 2013 addressed the concern that claimants were ultimately ineligible for UI benefits based solely on their school or training attendance. As a result of the policy change, the number of training benefits determinations has been significantly reduced. Most claimants who report school or training attendance and indicate that they remain able and available to work continue to remain eligible for UI benefits and they no longer have their payments delayed due to a determination appointment.

The EDD continues to collect detailed data from the streamlined determination process to ensure that claimants who are unavailable for work due to school or training attendance receive expedited training determinations. The data collected through the streamline process for claimants who are ineligible for both self-arranged training and UI benefits is continuously used to identify areas for improvement for all training benefits determinations.

The policy change, combined with the statewide implementation of the streamlined training benefits eligibility process, allows EDD to complete training benefits determinations on average within 48 hours of receipt of school or training information from the majority of claimants through the streamline determination process.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved
  • Completion Date: January 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2014-041