Editorial: LeVine’s crime report gives little hope to legitimate ESD applicants

Washington Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine’s prepared remarks Thursday morning, 2020-06-04, were more of a crime report than a help report. Of the approximately 12 minutes of her prepared remarks, with six slides, only 1 minute — maybe 2 — was focused on how applicants with legitimate claims are going to be helped. And even those remarks were empty rhetoric, such as these three snippets (approximate time from the start of the video linked above):

7:33 “Through out this crisis that has meant being as honest and transparent as we can at all times in order to uphold our responsibility to Washingtonians who need our services, even if that means delivering news that is not always welcome.”

She delivered the bad news. Fraud, and more fraud — $500-600 million she thinks, as an early estimate. LeVine reported on the number of dollars recovered — $330 million. LeVine mentioned 25,000 fraudulent applications. What LeVine did NOT report on were, for example:

— how many ESD employees are examining ID documents to verify identity?
— how many applicant IDs are able to be verified each day?
— what is the percentage distribution of ESD workers that represent different functions, e.g.: 80% on phones, 10% on programming, 10% on ID verification?

10:39 “We are calling in every single resource we can and will leave no stone unturned to get the benefits people are due and to catch the criminals and to stop fraudulent claims from going out.”

LeVine did not mention even one “single resource” they were calling in. Why not? Why not explain the triage plan to work on the applications waiting the longest — if such a plan even exists.

12:45 “Everyday we see thousands of suspeciaous claims come in with increasingly convincing false IDs that must be reviewed and dealt with by trained investigators.”

How many investigators? Nine, as has been suggested in social media posts?

The six slides she included in her prepared remarks were:

1. Latest Numbers (of applicants)
2. Preventing Fraud: Helping the Victims
3. Preventing Fraud: Still Under Attack
4. Operation 100% (where she spend no more than 2 minutes, and said the June 15th deadline is going to be extended by at least two weeks)
5. Looking to the future (basically for another extension of PEUC benefits)
6. Fraud: Actions to take

Not one slide was devoted to “Actions to take if you are in limbo” or “Actions and resources we are taking to get you out of limbo”.

Overall, her crime report may be fodder for newspaper and TV reports, but offer little hope to the thousands of legitimate applicants thrown out of work and needing financial assistance.