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Docking checks stopped, but when will ESC repay jobless?

Posted October 15, 2010

Employment Security Commission building
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— More than a week after a team of computer experts were dispatched to the state Employment Security Commission, officials are still trying to sort out problems plaguing the agency.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Beverly Perdue ordered the ESC to stop docking unemployed North Carolina residents for jobless benefits that they mistakenly received this year and to waive repayment of the $28 million that was improperly paid.

A computer programming error led to overpayments to about 38,000 people receiving a second year of benefits. The mistakes started with checks issued in January, and they continued after an internal audit caught the problem in mid-May.

Employment Security Commission, ESC logo ESC still sorting out overpayment mess

Last month, the agency began sending letters to people to inform them of the errors and to detail how much they might owe. ESC officials said many of the people receiving letters would end up owing nothing, and about 15 percent were underpaid and would be eligible to receive more money.

Calling the situation "ludicrous" and "absurd," Perdue sent IT experts from the state budget office to the ESC to resolve the computer problem and expedite the repayment of money to people who had seen some of their weekly benefit checks cut in half.

ESC spokesman Larry Parker said Friday that the agency had started making repayments, but he couldn't say how much had been repaid, how much was still left to repay or how long the agency expected the process to take.

The episode left Perdue frustrated with the ESC's management, but she hasn't yet taken any action on appointing new leadership at the agency.

Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Perdue, said Friday that the governor wants to rectify the problems at ESC before deciding whether management changes are needed.

The ESC also continues to work with the U.S. Department of Labor on a plan for the state to repay the federal government the $28 million in overpayments, Parker said.

The mistake also created other problems for the ESC. Parker said the agency had to delaying launching a job search program because its computer system couldn't be shut down to install it.


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  • clickhere Oct 15, 2010

    ESC does a fair job and sometimes an excellent job. They've got some issues, but on the other hand, their workload increased 5 fold and some of their folks likely got laid off also. Tough job right now.

  • 37 Oct 15, 2010

    Good to know that ESC will stop docking.

  • woodrowboyd2 Oct 15, 2010

    Say this is not happening.
    I see post on here of people that were outraged that they were going to have to pay the overpayment back.
    Now that they are going to be able keep the overpayment they are still complaining.
    Whats up with this.

  • lawha63 Oct 15, 2010

    To Computer Trainer..... You seem to misunderstand the issue. Because of the error people were overpaid. They were given money that does not belong to them. I assume as a goodwill gesture the decision was made not to make the recipients return the money to the ESC. In any case it is money that they should not have received.

  • colliedave Oct 15, 2010

    looks like an organization that needs to be privatized. If it were a private organization it could be fired and sued for lost funds.

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Oct 15, 2010

    And we want these same gubbermint folks to control my health care.

  • Juncyard Oct 15, 2010

    The ESC administration needs to be fired. What their
    actions / lack of action have caused is inexcusable.

  • parcman Oct 15, 2010

    let me get this straight, they overpay people first, then dock checks to get back money and now have to give back the over payment?..i hope i am missing somethisns

  • Adelinthe Oct 15, 2010

    Someone's trying to hide something.

    Plus, the error was discovered in mid-May, but no one made adjustments then? They just kept paying out the wrong amount for 4+ more months, racking up the debt until it reached $28M.

    Someone was afraid to admit the mistake so it could be corrected. That someone needs to go to jail for the amount that racked up after the audit.

    God bless.


  • Lost and Loaded Oct 15, 2010

    Inexcusable, the ESC should be one of the first state agencies to receive high profile scrutiny, especially in a severe recession. We need to work with the unemployed as much as possible - not just to get them some compensation - but to get them back in the workforce as soon as possible so they can resume paying taxes that help support the government. It speaks very poorly of Perdue's administration that this agency could make such a terrible accounting or have such poor customer service. Critical complaints that have recently come to light and still have much work to do to get fixed.