WA ESD Throwing ‘Roadblocks’ In Way of Auditor’s Investigations?
According to KIRO Radio and other sources, the Washington State Auditor's office claims the Employment Security Department is putting "roadblocks" in their way as they conduct their annual audits, along with two new ones.
Every year, the Auditor's office performs three such reviews of the unemployment office, but this year two additional audits are being done; largely due to the largest state unemployment fraud scheme in US history. The Nigerian hackers who made off with hundreds of millions of dollars earlier this year.
According to KIRO, a letter they obtained from Auditor Pat McCarthy to ESD Director Suzy Levine says ESD is making the audits more difficult than they need to be. McCarthy cites increased "challenges" in scheduling meetings and longer than typical response times in requests for information for standard audit proceedings.
In addition, McCarthy says ESD will not allow Auditor officials to interview ESD workers without an ESD audit "lisason" present. These delays and changes have never happened before.
This is likely due to the Auditor's office conducting five reviews, instead of the standard 3. In addition to the regular financial, accountability and Federal, the Auditor's office is also doing an IT and performance audit. Could it be ESD is concerned the audit will uncover widespread dereliction of performance leading to the Nigerian fraud?
There have been, for example, numerous reports and news stories about ESD relaxing security and normal protocols in an effort to process the tidal wave of claims that were filed after Inslee shut down the state's economy earlier this year. Several of these reports say ESD employees "turned off" normal security programs and features to speed up the claims processing.
This left ESD vulnerable to attack, and outside independent reviews show WA state was being watched, and was then targeted by the Nigerian scheme for this very reason.
Gov. Inslee and ESD's Levine claim "most" of the hundreds of millions stolen was recovered by Federal investigators before it had a chance to leave the US after being laundered. However, they have not provided an exact specific figure.
Inslee also claimed in September the backlog of claims by citizens had dropped from over 20K to about 4, and he said within a few weeks it would caught up. However, in November he released a statement now saying that might not happen.
Auditor's officials say the delays and roadblocks from ESD might prevent them completing the full audits by early spring, if at all.
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