Mazzochi: Administrative Failures Inside and Outside of IDES Demand an Audit

State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) has called for an audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) to better understand and assess its dismal performance over the last two months.

Mazzochi explained that her office has received repeated pleas for help from at-risk residents who lost their jobs because of the Governor’s shut-down order, “with no time to plan or prepare their lives or their finances.” Applicants for unemployment payments have reported lengthy delays and technological problems with the IDES computer system and the state’s toll-free unemployment hotline. The agency also experienced a massive data breach that publicly disclosed the social security numbers and other private information of over 32,000 individuals.  While Republican legislators immediately brought this to the Governor’s attention, the administration has resisted disclosing details about how many others’ data was put at risk; and how it plans to remedy the problem going forward.  

Making matters worse, in April IDES entered into two no-bid contracts totaling over $20 million for another unemployment system and to oversee hiring more telephone agents to field applications for unemployment benefits. The difficulties and frustrations with both the computer and telephone systems continued unabated.

Rep. Mazzochi explained that an audit will shed light on the underlying issues that led to the myriad of problems district residents faced with IDES. Mazzochi reiterated that the “failures at IDES, both to ensure that people can access a vital safety net during this pandemic and to protect Illinoisans’ data, need to be addressed and investigated.” 

“As a result of the Governor’s actions over a million Illinoisans were left out of work and then left in the cold by IDES,” Rep. Mazzochi continued. “The lax oversight of this administration by the legislature must be corrected. Illinois government needs to act as the responsible stewards of public money we are meant to be. Until then, any and all miscalculations and misappropriations need to be properly investigated and addressed.”

Mazzochi warned that “despite repeated failures at IDES there has been a clear lack of interest by the administration in getting to the bottom of what happened and making necessary changes. No-bid contracts are antithetical to transparency and ensuring proper use of taxpayer money.  The Governor ensured state workers—including at IDES—received $261 million dollars in raises this year. But the people are tired of seeing government fail again and again with their money, and with zero repercussions to those exercising administrative power.” Mazzochi added, “the time has come for an independent assessment to ensure that this never happens again.”

House Resolution 860 directs the Illinois Auditor General to conduct an audit of IDES and the unemployment benefits application. The audit will examine the possibility of another data breach, other vulnerabilities of the data of millions of Illinoisans who have applied for unemployment, and a review of the no-bid contracts. If you would like to express your support for this bill, and alerts on its progression, you can do so at Representative Mazzochi’s website, Repmazzochi.com.