Rep. Frese: Failures and Mismanagement at IDES Must be Righted

A recent audit of pandemic-period unemployment programs under the control of the Department of Employment Security has revealed widespread fraud and mishandling of billions of taxpayer dollars. Rep. Frese noted serious problems were allowed to continue for two years while Illinoisans truly needing help were unable to access it.

“The audit revealed that the State paid out more than $5 billion in fraudulent or excessive unemployment claims over two years. What’s worse, is that the $5 billion is just an estimate, and likely a lowballed one, according to auditors who are still trying to account for all the fraudulent payments,” Rep. Frese said.

Among the audit findings: “Overpayments, which include fraud, non-fraud, and identity theft, were an issue in both the regular UI (unemployment insurance) and PUA (pandemic unemployment assistance) programs. IDES reported overpayments for FY20 to FY22 that totaled $5.24 billion; regular UI accounted for $2.04 billion and PUA accounted for $3.20 billion…”

“Throughout the pandemic and economic shutdown, families in my district and across the state struggled to make contact with anyone at IDES to help them with legitimate unemployment claims. IDES offices were closed, those needing help could not get anyone on the phone, and the IDES online process was a complete disaster. Hardworking families put on the unemployment line by Governor Pritzker’s shutdown had to wait months to even begin their unemployment claims,” Rep. Frese said. “Now that workers and job creators are on the hook for this incompetence, there must be more insight to right the mismanagement and repeated failures at IDES.”