Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, today said new leadership is needed at Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
“At a time Michigan residents have needed help the most, the Unemployment Insurance Agency has failed at every turn,” Glenn said. “Enough is enough. It’s time for new leadership at this agency so the people of Michigan can get the service they need and deserve.”
Glenn called on Gov. Whitmer to replace UIA Director Liza Estlund Olson, who took over as the agency’s director after the previous director resigned amid criticism earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UIA has a long list of recent struggles.
A federal monitoring report revealed the state agency didn’t disclose a problem related to federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for nearly six months. After that long delay, the UIA sent letters informing nearly 700,000 people that they would be required to fill out additional paperwork to determine if they were truly eligible for the pandemic unemployment assistance they received.
UIA has repeatedly blamed its struggles during the pandemic on software and a third-party vendor – yet this week, the Whitmer administration quietly extended its contract with that vendor for another year.
The agency also waited more than a year to open its offices for in-person appointments, causing complications and delays for many residents in need of services.
“The UIA’s failures have made the incredibly difficult and challenging pandemic even harder to endure for hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents,” Glenn said. “A new direction is desperately needed.”
Glenn also is continuing her push to establish an ombudsman’s office that whistleblowers could contact without repercussions or having their identities disclosed – an effort to help state employees raise concerns about possible problems in their departments. Glenn said this measure, which has been approved by the House and is awaiting action in the Senate, potentially could help improve the UIA and many other state agencies.
Rep. Glenn talks about a series of bi-partisan bills that could be voted out of the House Judiciary Committee this coming week that would hold medical professionals accountable in cases of sexual misconduct. Rep. Glenn says the Larry Nassar case uncovered a number of shortcomings in Michigan law that still need to be remedied.