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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Michigan UIA to improve customer service as part of effort to become more effective, efficient

LANSING, Mich. - January 05, 2017 - The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency will become more effective and efficient in making sure people get the benefits they are entitled to under a three-point plan to address challenges within the agency , announced today by Talent Investment Agency Director Wanda M. Stokes. The UIA is part of TIA.

Stokes, who became TIA director in July, said she is conducting a top-to-bottom review of the agency and has made a change in leadership at the UIA, which provides temporary income to residents who lose jobs through no fault of their own and collects taxes from businesses to pay for that income.

“The Unemployment Insurance Agency helps Michiganders through a difficult time in their lives, and has many dedicated employees who serve our state well,” Stokes said. “But there are significant challenges within the agency that must be addressed. We must do better, and I am committed to making the agency stronger and more effective.”

Stokes said issues with various aspects of the UIA’s operations have been identified by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General, state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin. The agency also is responding to concerns raised by customers.

“I thank the people who have brought problems to our attention,” Stokes said. “We already have made some improvements and there are more to come. We are moving quickly because Michigan residents and employers deserve the best service possible.”

Stokes today presented a three-point plan to address issues that have been raised.

Point One - Focus on customer service:

  • The focus must be on helping Michiganders through this difficult time in their lives, and effectively running a system that best collects unemployment insurance taxes from employers.
  • UIA must do a better job listening to its customers to ensure they are assisted effectively and efficiently to get the benefits they are entitled to.
  • UIA will address the way residents interact with the agency through the telephone, online, on mobile devices and in person.

Point two - Organization evaluation:

  • Stokes has started a review of the UIA structure from top to bottom as well as other bureaus within the TIA, to determine whether changes should be made to ensure the agency operates more effectively and efficiently, and is transparent and accountable.
  • As a result of this review, Stokes has determined that a change in UIA leadership is needed to allow for a fresh look at the agency’s challenges and operations.
  • UIA Director Sharon Moffett-Massey has been reassigned but will continue as a member of the TIA leadership team. She will work on special projects, including serving as a representative to the Michigan Works! boards across the state.
  • Bruce Noll, TIA’s legislative liaison, will serve as acting assistant director of the UIA and oversee the agency during a national search.
  • Noll worked in the state Legislature as a chief of staff and legislative director before serving as a legislative liaison with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He joined TIA in early 2016.

Point three - Identifying and addressing fraud:

  • There have been challenges with the way the agency used data compiled by the MiDAS computer system to identify potential fraud. Work on this issue will continue.
  • Changes have been made to UIA practices to make sure that staff reviews potential fraud cases, rather than relying solely on the software.
  • UIA will work with our customers to resolve cases and protect employers and people who need benefits from fraudulent claims.

Stokes said work has begun on each of the points already and that additional changes could be announced in the coming weeks and months.

“We need to work quickly,” Stokes said. “At all times we must remember that we are here to serve our state’s residents and employers. When people are looking for work, they look to us for help and we must do our best to get them the help they are entitled to.”