After Delays in Payments, Oregon Fires Unemployment Chief
Was the director of Oregon's Employment Services Department a victim of technology, or perhaps ineptitude in upgrades?
Gov. Kate Brown said she asked for and accepted the resignation of ESD Director Kay Erickson over the weekend. She was appointed to the post in 2016. According to OregonLive.com and other sources, Erickson did a solid job of steering the Department through some transitions for nearly four years. She had taken over a department that critics and legislators said was void of leadership and plagued by numerous problems.
However, during her tenure, Oregon's jobless rate was very low, and they processed very few claims. But when the pandemic hit, the department was apparently overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of daily claims. Their tech systems, which some say are 'obsolete,' could not keep up with the claims, resulting in enormous numbers of delays.
Sources say despite an $86 million dollar Federal grant 11 years ago designed to upgrade outdated systems and tech, audits showed the ESD was still nowhere near it needed to be. In fact, the most recent audit of the department shows the computer upgrades are not scheduled to be fully completed until 2025--that's 16 years.
No word on who will be appointed to replace Erickson.