State Representatives Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), Charlie Meier (R-Okawville), Brad Stephens (R-Rosemont) and Mike Marron (R-Fithian)) held a zoom press conference on Thursday to highlight failures at the Illinois Department of Employment Security and call for an independent audit of the agency.
State Rep. Terri Bryant led a joint effort of House Republicans demanding answers after a May 15 phone call from a constituent revealed a possible data breach on the unemployment application website.
“My constituent was able to view highly sensitive personal information of more than 32,000 Illinoisans that applied for assistance under the pandemic unemployment assistance program (PUA),” Bryant said. “The data breach comes at a time we also learned of a massive no-bid contract that was given to Deloitte to build the website and the failure of the Pritzker administration to get its act together to help struggling people successfully navigate the system and get the benefits they are owed. The failure has been spectacular, and is completely unacceptable. That is why I am calling for IDES to be audited.”
Rep. Mike Marron says many people have been left behind due to failures at IDES. Marron has launched several videos on social media calling on the governor to fix failures at IDES and improve customer service for those trying to apply for unemployment assistance.
“Regrettably, after five weeks dodging our questions the Governor is not willing to engage the General Assembly or even to this point acknowledge that there is a problem at the Illinois Department of Employment Services,” said Rep. Marron. “This is why we are asking for a full audit of IDES, because if the Governor won’t take responsibility and fix this problem, then we will.”
Rep. Charlie Meier agreed with Marron, saying his office has been inundated with people that are either unable to file for unemployment or scared their identity has been compromised.
“Before Governor Pritzker forced over a million Illinoisans out of work, he should have made sure the agency he oversees, IDES was ready to handle every unemployment claim promptly and securely,” said Rep. Meier. “I still have constituents contact me because they are waiting to receive their unemployment check. I see no sense of urgency from this Governor to have these claims processed faster.”
Rep. Brad Stephens says an independent audit of IDES will reveal important details on how decisions were made and what entities received taxpayer dollars to carry out contract services.
“These employees complied with the stay at home order, and they kept up their end of the bargain by staying at home. What is unfathomable is that it has been over 10 weeks since the Governor started to implement the stay at home order, and the Governor has not kept up his end of the bargain,” said Stephens. “UI claimants are still getting responses that are delayed by weeks, their calls are being dropped, and the website is still not able to handle the claims. It appears the $22 million spent by the Governor to update and improve IDES systems was a monumental waste of taxpayer money.”
The House GOP members will file a House Resolution asking for the Illinois Auditor General to perform a full forensic audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security and push for its passage when the legislature returns to Springfield.