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UIA names Legal Advisor, establishes Legal and Compliance Bureau to guide anti-fraud, integrity strategies
June 05, 2023
In a continued sharp focus on restoring public trust in the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), Director Julia Dale today announced a Legal Advisor to her leadership team and created a Legal and Compliance Bureau that will capitalize on collaborative anti-fraud practices and increase overall program integrity.
Director Dale has named Kimberly (Kim) Breitmeyer as UIA’s Legal Advisor, in charge of all litigation and case referrals, memorandums of understanding, data sharing agreements, and contracts. She also will lead the UIA’s new Legal and Compliance Bureau, which will include the agency’s Fraud and Investigations Division and the Internal Controls Division.
“Hiring Kim and creating the Legal and Compliance Bureau will allow for more direct attention on internal and external integrity,” said Director Dale. “We’re bringing in someone with extensive experience in overseeing investigations, interacting with the Attorney General’s office, and strengthening strategic partnerships with law enforcement to make information sharing easier and to continue to effectively pursue bad actors who steal money from Michigan’s workers and employers.”
Breitmeyer will be integral in building on UIA successes over the past two years in an area of the agency that continues to have a high priority for resources. To date, through the diligent work of investigators and prosecutors, 116 individuals have been charged with unemployment insurance fraud, 46 were found guilty or entered a plea, and 37 sentenced for their role in stealing funds intended for workers who lost a job through no fault of their own. Safeguards to identify fraud are continually enhanced to more accurately identify and stop fraud and criminal activity while also reducing the risk of false accusations.
As director of the Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing (CSCL) Bureau’s Regulatory Compliance Division at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Breitmeyer strengthened partnerships with state and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute increasing instances of fraud and identity theft associated with online filings. She also worked closely with the Department of Attorney General’s Criminal Division and county prosecutors on investigations and prosecutions of suspected criminals.
Breitmeyer participates in the State Bar of Michigan’s initiatives designed to ensure fair and equitable access to legal advice, resources and representation for all.
“I look forward to reviewing our approach to investigations through a post-pandemic lens and working with an experienced team of UIA investigators to aggressively bring fraudsters to justice,” Breitmeyer said. “I’ve been watching Director Dale’s transformation of the UIA, and I am eager to help implement the reforms and be a part of an exciting time of change at the agency.”
Breitmeyer will establish a centralized procedure to pursue future fraud cases, propose new approaches to investigations, and leverage other resources and tools for both internal and external processes.
One important tool will be the development of a totally new computer system to replace the more than a decade old MiDAS/MiWAM computer system. UIA announced an agreement with Deloitte to design and install its UFACTS system over the next two years. The UFACTS system will be easy to use for workers and employers, speed claims and tax processing, and build on the agency’s current aggressive anti-fraud practices.
UIA Director leads agency reform efforts
The new system is a key element to Director Dale’s efforts to transform the UIA into a national example for fair, fast, and fraud-free service. The reforms are helping to reestablish trust in the agency among Michigan’s residents, the workers who qualify for jobless benefits, and Michigan employers who pay taxes to support the Trust Fund, from which benefits are paid. Since Dale was appointed in October 2021 – the agency’s 11th director in a dozen years – she has:
- Collaborated with the Attorney General’s office as well as local, state and federal law enforcement to bring bad actors to justice and combat fraud at the agency.
- Implemented new ethics and security clearance policies for employees and contractors.
- Created the UIA Modernization Workgroup, bringing together labor, business and jobless advocates to advise the UIA on how it can better serve employers and workers.
- Secured a more than $2.3 million equitable access and communications grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) Tiger Teams program to redesign and simplify how UIA engages with employers and develop a step-by-step roadmap for accessing agency services.
- Rebuilt to nearly $2.2 billion (and growing) the UI Trust Fund from which weekly benefits are paid to workers.
- Approved over 76,000 overpayment waivers of state and federal benefits paid during the global pandemic, valued at more than $555 million. More waivers are pending.
- Halted overpayment collections on claims filed since March 1, 2020, and refunded more than $12.5 million to more than 9,900 workers since May 2022.
- Identified initiatives and processes that would ease access to jobless benefits for workers in underserved communities under a $6.8 million USDOL equity grant.
- Reassigned staff and resources to address the largest categories of claims that are contributing to the agency’s case backlogs.
- Redesigned the agency’s public website at Michigan.gov/UIA for easier use on mobile phones and tablets.