The report also notes that during the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Labor’s mandatory one-week waiting period, which allows OESC to assess claims for fraudulent activity, was waived by the administration. This was important to help get benefits into the hands of needy Oklahomans. However, it also meant that the agency was not given the necessary time to evaluate claims. Coupled with the massive influx of claims, the agency saw a spike in fraudulent activity.
Although the agency did not have the one-week waiting period, we worked closely with our payment provider to locate common sources of fraudulent activity, and we cut off payments to three separate institutions. The agency also hired a full-time fraud consultant. Additionally, we started our digital ID verification process, which helped reduce and flag fraudulent activity.
Now the agency is working closely with state and federal law enforcement to catch fraudsters.
In September, the agency announced that it is starting its digital transformation initiative.
In 24 months, we will have completely transformed the user experience for both claimants and employers. We will have a unified claims system where claimants are able to process all of their claims information on one website, and we’ll no longer use the outdated mainframe.
The agency worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to get state and federal unemployment benefits quickly into the hands of Oklahomans and to reduce fraud. Although we made innovative and quick adjustments to handle the pandemic, we are looking to the future where we will have an updated and modern system to handle claims and to reduce fraudulent activity.